Boyfriend: Episode 2
Everything changes when fantasy ends and real life resumes, and problems that seemed not to matter in the magical glow of a sunset suddenly seem to loom over you in the brightness of day. Returning to day-to-day reality brings a lot of surprises for two people who never expected to see each other again, some good and some not-so-good, but it’s how they will face those surprises that will determine what happens to them next.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
During his job interview at Donghwa Hotel, Jin-hyuk had said that he likes the steep path that leads to the Namsan Library and how it changes each season. He also stated that he prefers books to gaming, because they allow you to go at your own pace.
He discussed his previous jobs, most of which were part-time labor, and how his father taught him that hard work stays with you longer. But he also graduated college with a major in hotel management, even though his primary interest is in humanities, because he feels like the hotel industry could prosper if based more on humanities.
Back in Korea after his Cuban backpacking trip, Jin-hyuk can’t stop thinking about Soo-hyun and how he learned that she’s the CEO of Donghwa Hotel. He shows up at his parents’ fruit store, and his relationship with his parents seems warm and loving.
He tells his parents that he has good news (Dad: “You seduced a Cuban woman?” Jin-hyuk: “That would have been better news…”). He announces that he’s been hired by Donghwa Hotel, and he promises to send them on a trip to Cuba with his earnings.
That evening Jin-hyuk hangs out with his friends Lee Dae-chan and Jo Hye-in, and he sheepishly admits that he spent the money for their souvenirs on something else. Dae-chan correctly guesses that it was a woman, making Jin-hyuk choke on his drink and change the subject.
Later, Jin-hyuk tells Hye-in that he doesn’t know which department he’ll be assigned to, quipping that he just hopes it’s not Human Resources (where she works). He asks about Soo-hyun and whether she’s the type to wander around alone without her secretary.
Hye-in says that Soo-hyun is known as the Ice Princess because she never smiles, and she has no personal life. She briefly outlines Soo-hyun’s life — she’s the daughter of the mayor, married a chaebol, and got Donghwa Hotel in the divorce. Hye-in changes the subject to herself, earning some friendly ribbing from Jin-hyuk, and soon they’re chasing each other around the playground.
Soo-hyun is back at work at her Seoul hotel, and it’s easy to see how she brought it back from the brink of bankruptcy as she inspects even the smallest amenities. She proves that she cares about her employees by remembering personal details about them, and even insists on personally writing the welcome letter for the new recruits.
When Jin-hyuk shows up for his first day at work (with a sharp new haircut), the first thing he sees is Soo-hyun arriving at the hotel. He panics and turns away, then wonders why he’s avoiding her when he was her savior in Cuba.
Still, he’s hesitant to look directly at Soo-hyun during her introductory speech. As she’s talking, she spots him sitting at one of the tables, and she falters long enough for everyone to notice the awkward silence.
Jin-hyuk eventually makes eye contact and flashes Soo-hyun a nervous smile, and she regains her equilibrium and continues her speech, looking directly at him as she concludes, “We sincerely welcome you.” Jin-hyuk’s smile widens, catching her message.
When she gets back to her office, Soo-hyun asks Secretary Jang for the resumes of all the new recruits, and Secretary Jang guesses that she saw Jin-hyuk. Soo-hyun checks out Jin-hyuk’s resume and notes that he’s twenty-nine, and she reads his little essay about growing up in his parents’ fruit shop.
She smiles, remembering his claim that he’s a fruit vendor. His essay continues that he attributes the health of the older people in his neighborhood to the fact that they hike barefoot on the mountain, and she marvels that he was telling the truth about that, too. He also talks about the little playground in Hongdae-dong where he grew up, which makes Soo-hyun thoughtful.
Jin-hyuk does get assigned to Human Resources with Hye-in, who looks happy to see him. His good looks catch the eye of GU EUN-JIN (Park Jin-ju), who makes a point to introduce herself flirtatiously. The assistant manager, Kim Han-gil, snaps that she wasn’t formally introduced to Jin-hyuk on purpose. Awk-ward.
Soo-hyun spots Jin-hyuk as he takes a break, talking animatedly to someone on the phone. She wonders out loud who’s making him smile like that, then snaps at Secretary Jang when she guesses it’s a girlfriend. Soo-hyun asks if she’ll seem pathetic if she asks him who he’s talking to, and when Secretary Jang asks if she can answer as a friend, Soo-hyun quips, “Don’t.”
On her ride home, Soo-hyun tells Driver Nam that she heard of a playground in Hongdae-dong that’s thirty years old. She mentions the garden in Cuba and how she could feel the owner’s wife’s love there, and she’s curious whether that playground has the same feel to it.
She declines when Driver Nam offers to take her there, but before long she’s sitting on the swings, taking in the atmosphere. Jin-hyuk shows up, surprised to see her there, and she cringes at having been caught.
There’s a long, awkward moment, then Jin-hyuk says what they’re both thinking — that it’s weird that they met as friends halfway around the world, but now they’re boss and employee. He clarifies that he didn’t know who she was then, and that he hadn’t planned out what became a beautiful memory for him, worried that she’ll doubt his intentions.
But Soo-hyun tells him not to worry, because she knows he’s not that kind of person. Jin-hyuk says that she’s in some of the pictures he took in Cuba, and he assures her that it was unintentional. He has the negatives and asks if she’d like to see them, growing excited as he says there’s a “light box” of sorts down the street.
He grabs her wrist again, then lets go and says, embarrassed, that he just got overwhelmed by memories of Cuba. He looks like he’s preparing to receive a tongue-lashing, but Soo-hyun just tells him to lead the way.
Jin-hyuk takes her to a convenience store where he uses a claw machine as a light box. He shows Soo-hyun how to look through the loupe to see the pictures, and she jokes that she looks better in person.
Suddenly, Soo-hyun asks if Jin-hyuk has any money, and he giggles a little at the reminder of their night in Cuba. She wants to try to win a toy from the claw machine, and he brags that he’s a pro at it, only to lose the toy. He tries again and again, eager to impress her, and eventually she asks to give it a try. Naturally, she gets the little stuffed owl on her first try.
Jin-hyuk pouts that he lost because she makes him nervous, and she asks if he means because she’s his boss. He says it’s because she’s a beautiful woman, then realizes that he is talking to his boss and cringes, but Soo-hyun just smiles at his embarrassment.
She gives him the stuffed owl she won, then notices Driver Nam waiting nearby (and looking tickled pink to see her with a friend). She can’t help herself, and she asks Jin-hyuk who he was talking to on the phone this afternoon at 12:42 p.m. He thinks, then says with a giant grin that he was talking to the woman he likes. Soo-hyun hides her disappointment and says she was just curious because he looked so happy, then leaves.
Jin-hyuk chuckles to himself that she remembered the exact time he was on the phone. He gives a little shiver and muses that he feels weird whenever he’s with Soo-hyun, but his expression says it’s the best weird feeling ever.
After taking Soo-hyun home, Driver Nam meets with Jin-hyuk’s new department director, DIRECTOR KIM (Kim Hye-eun). She’s happy that this current crop of new recruits is uncommonly attractive, particularly the one in her department (Jin-hyuk). Driver Nam snaps that he was a looker in his day, but Director Kim tells him that she was there and he’s lying through his teeth.
While in her closet, Soo-hyun finds the red dress she wore on that night she spent with Jin-hyuk in Cuba. She still has the sandals he bought her from the street vendor, and she wonders where the heels are that she was wearing that night.
Jin-hyuk still has them, and he arranges the stuffed owl Soo-hyun gave him on a shelf next to the shoes. Similarly, Soo-hyun puts the humble sandals in her shoe closet, on display next to all of her expensive shoes.
At work the next day, an already infatuated Eun-jin asks Hye-in about Jin-hyuk. Hye-in says that he’s nice, though he has a tendency to get hooked on something and focus on it until he gets it. Eun-jin just decides that she’ll be the bait, and Hye-in looks unsettled by Eun-jin’s predatory manner.
Soo-hyun gets a summons from her mother, so she goes to her parents’ house. Her father seems nice, if detached (he didn’t even know she went to Cuba), but her mother makes a nasty comment about Soo-hyun getting nothing but the hotel in the divorce.
She wants to know if anything happened at Soo-hyun’s ex-mother-in-law’s birthday party, since Chairwoman Kim has asked to see her. Annoyed by her mother’s insistence on calling Woo-seok her son-in-law as if they’re still married, Soo-hyun says she’s leaving.
Her mother asks if she offended someone, but Soo-hyun snaps, “Have I ever done anything to offend anyone? Ever since Dad started in politics, I can’t even yawn comfortably!” As she leaves the room, her mother yells that she doesn’t blame Woo-seok for divorcing her. Damn.
Meanwhile, Chairwoman Kim tells her son Woo-seok that he needs to get remarried soon — but not to the woman he’s dating. She wants him to get back together with Soo-hyun, whose father is running for president, and she doesn’t even give him a chance to say how he feels about it.
She tells Soo-hyun’s mother of her plan, and Mom simpers and says she’s already spoken to Soo-hyun as if they had a nice little mother-daughter chat. By the look on Chairwoman Kim’s face, she dislikes Soo-hyun’s mother, but considers her a necessary evil.
At a team dinner that evening, Eun-jin makes a special bomb shot for Jin-hyuk, who drinks it despite Hye-in saying that he doesn’t usually drink much. Before long, he’s adorably drunk and passing out hangover remedies to everyone, and the party breaks up when he starts spoon-feeding an equally drunk Han-gil one of the drinks, hee.
Jin-hyuk tries to make his way home, but he ends up leaning on a sign struggling to stay on his feet. Soo-hyun, who worked late, sees him valiantly attempting to stay vertical.
It begins to rain, and Jin-hyuk makes his way to the bus stop, where he plops onto the bench and starts falling asleep. Soo-hyun swings around to check on him, and he’s so happy to see her that he nearly dives headfirst through her car window.
She says that since he’s drunk, and she’s still upset he refused her offer of a first-class plane ticket, he should let her drive him home. He jumps in, cheerfully telling her that he doesn’t have the alcohol tolerance of his new team as he unzips his tie. Yes, I said unzips.
He tells Soo-hyun that he doesn’t know how to tie a necktie, and she asks if the suit he’s wearing is his only one. He says he also has a gray one, but that she’s only seen him while he’s wearing the navy suit, and holy cow he’s a cute drunk.
He’s fast asleep by the time Soo-hyun stops at his playground. When he wakes, he worries that Soo-hyun might get sleepy on her drive home, so he offers her some dried squid he stashed in his pocket. He actually tries to feed it to her, so she hurriedly promises to eat it on her way home.
Jin-hyuk stares at her for a long time, leaning over into her side of the car. But he’s just sad that she thinks the squid is dirty, and he randomly blurts out that he’d already seen that salsa show in Cuba three times, but saw it again because of her.
He insists on feeding her the squid so that her hands won’t get dirty, and he claps with joy when Soo-hyun reluctantly takes it in her teeth. I really hope he can’t remember this in the morning, because if he does, he’s going to be so embarrassed. Scratch that — I hope he remembers every humiliating detail.
He waves Soo-hyun on home, and she drives off a little stunned with the squid still hanging out of her mouth. She finally takes it out, and laughs.
In the morning, Jin-hyuk rides to work wondering if he’s going to get fired today. He’s distracted all morning, and he looks downright ill when reminded of his interview with the CEO, which is apparently something Soo-hyun does with all new employees.
He heads to Soo-hyun’s office, where he’s barely able to look her in the eye as he apologizes to her. She says that he didn’t do anything wrong and offers him some herbal medicine for his hangover.
He swears he feels fine, but she tells him that he shared his squid so she’s sharing her herbal medicine, which makes them friends. Jin-hyuk squeaks that he doesn’t dare call her a friend, but he takes the medicine and gulps it down.
Soo-hyun compliments him on his gray suit, and she asks if today’s tie also has a zipper. Poor Jin-hyuk looks like he wants to crawl under the couch, and Soo-hyun struggles not to laugh at his obvious dismay. She says that if he feels uncomfortable, then he can do her a favor — eat ramyun with her at a rest stop.
Woo-seok has dinner with his girlfriend, the one he left Soo-hyun for. She mentions that it’s been four years and asks how long things will be like this, obviously angling for a proposal, but Woo-seok has nothing to say.
Jin-hyuk wonders if he should wear a work suit to have ramyun with Soo-hyun, but he settles on something more casual. He still looks nervous and uncomfortable as Soo-hyun drives to the rest stop, so she asks him if he has any squid in his pockets to snack on.
At the risk of getting fired, Jin-hyuk snaps that she sure knows how to hold a grudge, ha. Soo-hyun surprises him by busting out laughing, which makes Jin-hyuk laugh and lightens the mood. She puts on a hat to hide her face when they get to their destination, and they go inside for their ramyun.
Noticing how daintily Soo-hyun eats, Jin-hyuk offers to show her how to slurp it properly. She jokes that he might fail like he did at the claw machine, but he performs the maneuver perfectly… then chokes when Soo-hyun quips that that was awful.
After they eat, Jin-hyuk offers to drive back to the city so that Soo-hyun can rest. She reaches across his lap to show Jin-hyuk where the button is to adjust the seat, and he goes very quiet with her face so close to his. Soo-hyun seems to notice how she affects Jin-hyuk, but she doesn’t say anything about it.
When they get home, Soo-hyun apologizes for monopolizing Jin-hyuk’s day off, but he offers to go with her if there’s anything else she wants to do. She says he must feel strange, having his CEO ask him to eat ramyun, but he says that if he worked somewhere else and they didn’t have any connections, he wouldn’t have been able to make her laugh again like she did in Cuba.
She wonders if he feels strange having her for a boss, and he fires back that she must feel awkward having him as an employee, but they both agree that they’re fine with it. Jin-hyuk writes his phone number on his hand, then uses Soo-hyun’s phone to take a picture of it, offering it to her with no strings attached.
She says warily that his girlfriend probably won’t like this, but Jin-hyuk says he’s not dating anyone. Soo-hyun reminds him that he was on the phone with the woman he likes, and he laughs that he was talking to his mother. Soo-hyun is surprised that he looks so loving while talking to his mother, but he says it was the Korean beef she said was for dinner that made his heart flutter, ha.
At her flustered reaction, Jin-hyuk calls her cute, then stops for fear he’s being disrespectful. But she says it’s better than hearing she looks old, and on that note, she leaves.
During a business lunch regarding the new hotel the next day, Soo-hyun’s phone suddenly blows up with calls from Secretary Jang. Secretary Jang tells her to check out the link she just sent and then call her back, dropping to banmal and calling her “Soo-hyun.” Soo-hyun does, and what she sees makes her jaw drop.
It’s a news article about herself, on a date at a rest stop. The article spreads through the hotel like a wildfire, and although Jin-hyuk’s face is pixelated in the photo, it’s pretty obvious that it’s him.
I was worried that leaving the magic and romance of Cuba behind would undercut the chemistry between our leads, but I just love Jin-hyuk and Soo-hyun even more after this episode. Seeing them in their natural habitats explains a lot about them as people, and made me understand more about their behavior in Cuba. In particular, Jin-hyuk’s warm, loving family explains a lot about his carefree attitude, as he’s clearly been encouraged to be himself, Conversely, watching Soo-hyun with her family shows why she feels the need to be so protective of her emotions and true feelings.
But I love how Soo-hyun lets herself just go around Jin-hyuk — I imagine his emotional openness makes her feel safe to relax her iron control on that part of herself. He’s safe to show her feelings to because he’s just a big ball of feelings himself. It’s cute to watch him try to rein in his impulsive tendencies around Soo-hyun while at the same time, she’s struggling to give herself permission to open up and relax. So I liked that Jin-hyuk got drunk and lost control (and by the way, Drunk Jin-hyuk is officially my new favorite thing), which flipped things on them the next day, putting him in the position of being nervous so that Soo-hyun could be friendlier with him. I notice that every time Soo-hyun laughs at Jin-hyuk’s antics, she seems more relaxed and unleashes that wicked sense of humor even more, and it makes me look forward eagerly to the time when they truly see themselves as equals.
I knew that the social and financial gap between them would be a problem, but at least until the article was published, it seemed to be much less a problem for Soo-hyun than it is for Jin-hyuk. And so far, it doesn’t feel like a typical case of the more privileged being fundamentally too good for the humble commoner just because she was lucky to be born into a higher class — it’s more that Soo-hyun is Jin-hyuk’s boss, and it puts her in a position of authority so that he doesn’t know how to act towards her. Soo-hyun doesn’t seem to care at all, so the only issue between the two of them, at the moment, is how to balance their work dynamic with their growing friendship-or-maybe-more.
I wasn’t expecting Soo-hyun and Jin-hyuk’s relationship to be outed so soon, and even if he’s a relative nobody, at least one person, Hye-in, recognized him from the news article. I don’t think that Soo-hyun or Jin-hyuk feel that there’s anything to hide about their budding relationship (and although they haven’t explicitly discussed it, I think they both acknowledge that this is romantic in nature), but society is going to see a lot to object to about them. Pick your offense — they’re from two very different social strata, they’re boss and employee, and Soo-hyun is significantly older than Jin-hyuk. Add to that a pair of mothers with a political agenda, and I think Soo-hyun and Jin-hyuk are in for quite a storm. I just hope that their feelings are strong enough already to give them the strength to weather it and come out the other side together.
Recap From Ms. Koala