Do the writers rooms in Korea come equipped with a giant chart showing which romantic tropes need to appear in which episode – backhugs, accidental skinship, etc.? K-dramas tend to be formulaic and a bit predictable, but if you have a successful recipe, why change it? This makes me look forward to Episode 8 in a series because that’s often when the kiss happens. Did this show follow the pattern? Ooooooooh, yeah!
The canoodling continues
The office team supposedly goes on a weekend workshop to map out a plan for the art center, but we all know it’s just an excuse to hang out and drink. Until their stuffy director shows up and spoils the party. Or does he? Turns out Young Joon could hardly care less about the schedule. He has a hidden agenda of his own to woo and win Mi So and get a commitment out of her. Although he doesn’t get a girlfriend from the trip, he does get another ramen lesson. Young Joon faithfully follows Mi So’s instructions for making a proper cooling cup and even copies her funny nonsense words as he eats his noodles. By the end of the night, the two are grinning and texting like a couple of lovestruck teenagers. Their unusual atmosphere during the workshop leaves their coworkers suspicious, and the not-so-sharp secretary of Young Joon’s best friend is convinced she has the answer. They ate steak without them! How does this girl find her way to work everyday?
Thumone’s twying hawd
Maybe she carpools with this other genius-in-the-making. The redhead has her sights set on the thoughtful rescuer of the bra pad crisis and is willing to try any makeover necessary to gain his attention. When she learns that he likes cute women, she puffs out her cheeks, talks with a lisp, and braids her hair like Anne of Green Gables. It’s a shame that she’s putting so much effort in. When he mentioned that he liked a cute woman, he probably already meant her. I looked up the actress, Hwang Bo Ra, to see if she was also a comedian. She’s so good at the ridiculous faces and whatever it is that she does with her lips. But she’s just a talented performer who is really good at comedy.
You can do it!
Young Joon is getting a lot of practice these days. How to say he’s sorry. How to put someone else’s happiness above his own. How to admit his secretary looks pretty and not take it back. And, most importantly, how to finish that first kiss. Attempt #1 in episode six had Mi So propelled across the room like a curling stone. But our Vice President is nothing if not persistent. He invites Mi So over to his place for a big present. The girl gets all dolled up and arrives to find a trash can full of burnt beef. It’s the thought that counts, right? But dramas have shown us time and again how serious Koreans are about their meat! Mi So swallows her disappointment and orders pizza, and Young Joon makes Attempt #2 with a slice still in his hand. Unfortunately, the creepy lady from his nightmares pops into his mind and leaves him jerking back again. But our poor, scarred hero is not the only one growing. Instead of taking the rejection personally, Mi So plays it off with a joke about which direction he’s going to push her away this time. I just love this girl!
Cold hands, Warm heart
Remember when Young Joon and Mi So were on the ferry and he didn’t want to give her his jacket? And remember when they got caught in the rain at the workshop and he worried about catching a cold? Turns out those weren’t just throw away jokes. Our emotionally shuttered VP is sensitive to chilly temperatures for a very good reason. Or perhaps I should say a very BAD reason. Like so many things in this show, they don’t reveal the full story yet. But Young Joon’s mother sheds more light on the mystery when she finds out from her older son, Sung Yeon, that Mi So was also kidnapped all those years ago. She contacts Secretary Kim to hear her version of events and sweetly thanks her for being with her son during that awful time. The more we learn of past events, the more heartbreaking it is. Mom gives Mi So an important clue when she mentions how she worried for her child back then, since he didn’t have a coat and is very sensitive to the cold. Sung Yeon crashes their female bonding time and Secretary Kim notices his pristine ankles with no sign of scars, unlike his younger brother. She is also savvy enough to pick up on the disparity when Sung Yeon later mentions how much he likes winter.
Later, Young Joon finds Mi So’s diary at the house and we learn more about the two children in another flashback. We finally see the full face of the boy as he walks young Mi So home and pinky promises to marry her someday. It’s not entirely clear if Young Joon is reading this or remembering it, but why would he wear such a sentimental smile if the entry was about the woman he loves and his brother? It’s telling that the first time we see the boy’s face is when Young Joon is there. He MUST be the oppa. The drama really isn’t even trying to hide it anymore. We already know he was a brilliant child. Is it possible he faked his amnesia to try and bring an end to the emotional turmoil that swamped his family after the kidnapping? We still don’t know the WHY, but it’s pretty obvious who the WHO is.
If at first you don’t succeed
Give up? Not these characters! This drama is populated by tenacious people. Older brother Sung Yeon is hardly the typical sweet second lead who quietly pines from a distance. This guy keeps approaching Mi So and she keeps holding him at bay. He can recognize her flower allergy, but he can’t recognize her feelings. Even though his brother keeps warning him away, and Mi So even shakes off his wrist grab, Sung Yeon stakes a verbal claim to her at the art center book concert when he reveals to the audience that he has found his special someone who he met as a child. Young Joon storms out, but his older brother isn’t the only tenacious character around. Mi So hurries after her boss and tries to explain what he saw earlier. Young Joon reminds her that he already said he would accept everything, but Mi So persists. She doesn’t want any misunderstandings to separate them. (I loved this! How many times have we watched a drama where the couple is needlessly parted by something that could have been resolved with one honest conversation?) She bravely confesses that she likes him and apologizes for taking so long to tell him. An emboldened Young Joon tries one more time to kiss Mi So and jerks back again, traumatized. But our girl is no quitter! She ever so lightly takes his face in her hands and gently touches her lips to his then moves away. This seems to break whatever barrier was left in Young Joon’s mind. He pulls her back to him and kisses her for real, without any hesitation or fear.
I find myself caring more and more about the childhood mystery as I care more and more for the characters. The actors convey the pain of those memories so well! The story is slowly reeling us in with its sincerity. It doesn’t feel the need to end every episode with an overinflated Dun-Dun-Duhhhhhh situation. These quiet moments of two wounded people finding hope and comfort in each other are just as compelling. (I admit the toe curling kisses aren’t bad either.) Now we have to wait a whole week for more! But at least they’re leaving us with smiles on our faces.
Until then. Keep the k-love alive!