Our couple faces the reality of their obstacles, which may not be as complicated and mortifying as it seems. Or maybe it is for a fragile ego. It’s a good thing that Na-ri is so incredibly patient with her counterpart, but her patience doesn’t exist without a couple of petty fights, persistent nagging, and affirmation of love.
EPISODE 23 RECAP
Hwa-shin concludes his personal breast cancer report and walks past an unsatisfied PD Oh to Na-ri, who watched his report in tears. Jung-won also saw the report, and we see his somber look as he hangs his head.
Na-ri asks Hwa-shin if he’s crazy, and he pulls her into a comforting embrace. He pulls away and wipes away her tears. “This is fact, nothing is incorrect. This is right,” he tells her. He vows to deliver news in this manner and tells her to wait for him at home.
Hwa-shin confidently walks onto the elevator, where Announcer Park looks at his with fear and flinches when Hwa-shin adjusts his cuffs. In the lobby, Hwa-shin turns around and backs Announcer Park onto the wall. Then, he takes out a pack of cigarettes and stuffs it in Announcer Park’s pocket to settle their debt.
Once Hwa-shin sits in his car, his façade wears off and he cringes in mortification. He’s thoroughly embarrassed and calls him crazy for outing himself. Ha, this is the Hwa-shin we know.
When Hwa-shin stops at an intersection, Jung-won spots him and turns his car around to follow him. But Jung-won’s car gets stuck at a light, and he worries about where Hwa-shin is headed, since he wasn’t driving home.
Hwa-shin calls Mom and apologizes for missing dinner. Mom watched his report despite his attempt to decoy her to make him dinner, and she orders him to hold tightly onto his girlfriend who stayed by his side through his treatment. Crying, she says that he’ll never get married if he loses her. She weeps at the possibility that he’ll never get married, and Hwa-shin tries to soothe her.
Na-ri calls Hwa-shin in worry, but he doesn’t pick up. He just continues to drive through a tunnel, which reads in parody: No fleeing while dating.
The next morning, the station is buzzing with Hwa-shin’s report, and PD Oh finds a leave request from Hwa-shin on his desk. Na-ri comes into his office, and this is news to her, since he disappeared without telling anyone.
In the following days, Na-ri continues to call Hwa-shin and seeks Jung-won for help. Jung-won assures her that he’ll find Hwa-shin and admits defeat with an encouraging smile. The days continue with no word from Hwa-shin, and his absence consumes Na-ri, as she calls and cries.
Na-ri ends up at the hospital after absentmindedly closing the rice cooker on her hand, and she drops by Doctor Geum’s office to update them about Hwa-shin. They’re surprised and worried by his disappearance, and Na-ri asks them about his test results. They keep his secret and claim that he’s fine.
One early morning, Hwa-shin returns to the station and finds his face blown up on the building in a banner that quotes: “I hope for our country to be a place where minorities can also be happy.” He’s amused.
Before he walks into the set, he practices in his head, “Let’s break up.” He walks in as Na-ri delivers the news, and she pauses briefly before finishing her lines. Hwa-shin walks up to her after she redirects the news to a report, and he nonchalantly tells her that it seems like she’s been waiting for him. She stays expressionless.
Before Hwa-shin can deliver his practiced lines, PD Oh and Announcer Uhm acknowledge that they’ve been waiting and drag him out of the set. Hwa-shin asks for his warning, since he hasn’t shown up to work all week. PD Oh tells him to get right on camera, but Hwa-shin has no intention to.
Hwa-shin returns to the set after the broadcast, and Na-ri hinds her injured fingers from him. She maintains her composure as Hwa-shin tries to make casual conversation before dropping his bomb. He practices again in his head, but his words come out jumbled as, “Let’s no—t break up.” Hee.
As they eat at the cafeteria, Na-ri asks what he’s been doing, and he doesn’t give her a clear answer. He just explains that he was embarrassed but returned in a week only because of her. She asks what conclusion he drew after disappearing for a week, and he prepares in his head again — “Let’s break up!” — but his words come out clearly as the opposite: “Let’s not break up.” Ha.
She ignores his statement and asks if he watched her on TV. He says that he didn’t have a TV, and he practices in his head again. Trying to get it right, he says with more conviction: “Let’s not break up.” HA. Na-ri responds this time and confirms that they’re not breaking up. Then, she proceeds to eat with her injured hand and ignores his worried questions.
Frustrated with himself, Hwa-shin screams on the roof, “LET’S BREAK UP!” He squirms in anger and calls himself selfish for not being able to get the words out.
PD Oh runs into Announcer Park in the bathroom and delivers some great news: Announcer Park has been issued a transfer to Kenya. Announcer Park yells in complaint, but PD Oh shrugs that it’s simply orders from the company. Good riddance.
Hwa-shin boards the elevator with Sung-sook, and she stares at his chest. He reminds her to stop staring and that his chest isn’t hers. But she gently place her hand on his right chest to ask if he’s alright. He clarifies that it’s the wrong side, and he grabs her hand before she can violate him again.
Sung-sook smirks that he seems okay, seeing that he’s rebelling. She knows that he requested a warning for his absence, but Sung-sook updates him on the past week. Viewers called in for him, not because they were curious or sympathetic, but to request that Hwa-shin report at his place every day. On top of that, his relationship with Na-ri has been all the buzz. They’ve been the talk of the week, but Hwa-shin is skeptical.
While preparing for the news, Hye-won tells Hwa-shin that she’s given up on him. He assumes that he found a better man, but she continues with her parting words. She still thinks his chest is sexy and wants to anchor the news beside him for a while, so she tells him to stay healthy. He looks touched by her words.
Na-ri watches Hwa-shin on the news and thinks back to his repeated statements to not break up. She imagines him saying it over the news, and then she imagines what he really wants to say, seemingly aware of his intent.
At home, Hwa-shin reads the newspaper and looks to Mom. He calls her to her and says, “Let’s break up.” She scolds him, saying that they can’t break up because they’re mother and son. Hwa-shin shakes his head, wondering why it’s so easy to say these words to his mother.
At the end of the next day, Na-ri approaches Hwa-shin and asks him out to dinner. His mind says no, but his mouth says yes, so they end up eating at the pojangmacha. Hwa-shin asks if he can order a soju, and Na-ri reminds him that he never asked her permission before and orders for him.
As he drinks, Na-ri tells Hwa-shin that he should officially meet Chi-yeol as her boyfriend. She acknowledges that Chi-yeol doesn’t like him, but she says that he’ll act with the contempt of a mother-in-law to whoever her boyfriend is (true that). She laughs that Bum will also be his brother-in-law. Then, Hwa-shin says it, “Let’s break up.”
He seems a little shocked that he finally said it, and Na-ri jokingly asks if it’s because he’s scared of his future brother-in-laws. Then, she casually asks if it’s because of his infertility. Hwa-shin’s face falls, and he accusingly asks when she found out. She admits that she found out soon after he disappeared, and Hwa-shin takes another swig of soju.
He repeats that they should break up, now that everything’s out in the open, but Na-ri refuses to. She says that she doesn’t need to have children — Hwa-shin is enough. He calls her out on her lie and says that she’s making him feel shameful. Na-ri insists that she’s okay, but Hwa-shin says that he’s not. He’s confident that he can love her forever, but he questions whether he can make her happy. Na-ri says that she can’t break up, but Hwa-shin asserts that they break up and leaves.
Alone at the pojangmacha, Na-ri thinks back to her conversation with Doctor Geum. She caught Doctor Geum in her lies and asked for the truth. Doctor Geum warns her that Hwa-shin will be unstable and encourages her to wait for him. At home, she thinks back to building the snowbaby and cries into the baby items that Hwa-shin bought for her in bulk.
Announcer Uhm tells PD Oh that he needs to fly to England because his mom is in critical condition and requests that Hwa-shin take over for a week. PD Oh warns him that he may not get his anchor position back, but Announcer Uhm is desperate for coverage. PD Oh speaks to the president, who orders him to put Na-ri and Hwa-shin together as a replacement pair, but PD Oh doesn’t support the idea of the two of them reporting together.
Na-ri knocks on Hwa-shin’s door and pulls him outside. She asks to think of the situation in reverse — would he break up with her if she was infertile? He ignores the question and tells her to get lost, but Na-ri continues. She acknowledges that a marriage without a child could get tiring, but she can’t imagine a marriage without him. She warns him not to break up with her again, but he says it again.
He says it again and again with a straight face, even when Na-ri tells him to shut up. She swallows the bitter words and optimistically says that it’s just subfertility and technology has advanced. She suggests that they do it every day, eat all the good food, and take sexy naps.
She insists that they just need to keep trying, but Hwa-shin isn’t hopeful. She says that they’ll take naps every time they eat ramyun and buy more ramyun to keep trying. Na-ri’s “Let’s get married” is countered with Hwa-shin’s “Let’s break up,” and she finally gives up. She lets him have his way, and walks off in defeat.
She sits on his patio, and Hwa-shin tells her to go home. She refuses and lies down. She gives him a thumbs up for his stubborn pride and says that she’s done enough. She held on long enough and yells that they should give up everything. She gets up and suggests that they eat ramyun one last time, but he doesn’t want to.
Chi-yeol discovers Na-ri there and asks what she’s doing. Hwa-shin tells Chi-yeol that his drunk noona is having a drunken fit and tells him to remove her from his patio. And of course, mother-in-law Chi-yeol gets defensive and almost jumps over to the roof.
The next morning, Chef greets Ja-young and Sung-sook in a well-fitted suit and seems to glow in Sung-sook’s eyes. He reminds Ja-young to meet him at the hotel later and drives off to his appointment. Sung-sook pouts that she doesn’t want to eat dinner alone and says that she doesn’t want Ja-young to date anyone because she feels abandoned. As she walks away, Sung-sook turns to Ja-young and asks, “How can people change so easily?” Heh.
PD Oh tells Na-ri and Hwa-shin that they’ll be taking over the 9 o’clock news for the week, and Hwa-shin refuses the offer. Sung-sook decided that she didn’t want to anchor the news with Hwa-shin, so they’re filling in for the week under the president’s orders. Na-ri gratefully accepts the opportunity while Hwa-shin fumes.
As they walk down the hall, Hwa-shin warns Na-ri that she won’t be able to marry anyone else if the station continues to milk this PR opportunity by pairing them on the air. She questions if he’s doubting her skill to anchor beside him, but Hwa-shin continues to assert that this is a premature opportunity that could make her more vulnerable, because she could lose her morning anchor position.
Na-ri says that she’s never worked safely, so this danger doesn’t pose a threat to her. He reminds her that they’ve broken up, but Na-ri criticizes him for breaking up with her and discouraging her from this opportunity under the guise of having her best interest at heart. She refuses to stand down and calls Hwa-shin a coward.
Hwa-shin finds Sung-sook looking a bit defeated on set, and he knows that she refused to anchor the news with him because he’ll always be a high-schooler in her eyes. She knows that he’s trying to use this opportunity for personal gain, and he says that everyone would do the same in this situation.
The air is still awkward between Hwa-shin and Na-ri, but Sung-sook and PD Oh look upon with approval as they open the 9 o’clock news.
Chef meets with his sister, Madam Kim, who’s elated at the news of someone who “cured” Chef’s low arousal (note: we translated Chef’s low arousal as asexuality in previous episodes, and it seems that was incorrect, as asexuality is not something to be “cured”). They’re at the hotel restaurant, and Ja-young nervously approaches them to introduce herself to Madam Kim. Chef introduces her as the sexiest woman in the world to him, and Madam Kim looks to her with her mouth agape.
Back on set, Na-ri continues reporting about a company’s president facing a penalty, and Hwa-shin interrupts her with his editorialized statements about the source of the president’s wealth. Dong-gi freaks out in the control room and orders Na-ri to cut in with their prepared lines. But Hwa-shin wraps up with another inflammatory statement directed to the president, and Na-ri tries to reach over to him under the table to make him stop. Dong-gi complains that he’ll get blamed for this, and luckily they conclude the news before Hwa-shin can continue.
After they’re off the air, Hwa-shin turns to Na-ri and asks if he’s still a coward. Oh, so you did that to prove that you weren’t? Sung-sook and PD Oh tell him to take it easy, but they both know how reckless Hwa-shin can be.
Later that night, Na-ri picks up a blanket from the cleaners and brings it to Hwa-shin’s house. She’s also brought a rice cooker and iron for them to use together, calling it her dowry. Hwa-shin reminds her that they broke up, but Na-ri reminds him that she suffered through unrequited love for three years. So after dating, it may take up to 30 years to break up. She agrees to break up with him in 30 years and leaves him with her dowry.
In the next news segment, Hwa-shin continues to call out the wealthy company presidents for their corruption, and Dong-gi shakes his head that Hwa-shin is only jeopardizing himself. After the conclusion, Hwa-shin asks Na-ri if he’s still a coward, and PD Oh storms onto the set to warn him about taking responsibility for all the investors that back out after his accusatory statements.
As Hwa-shin walks home, he finds Bum at the corner convenience store and asks for a bite of his bread. Bum refuses, and Hwa-shin calls him petty. But the King of Petty cannot be beat, as we see that Hwa-shin won first place on the arcade game just to beat out Bum.
As Hwa-shin walks out of the convenience store with his bag of snacks, he turns to Bum one more time and asks for a bite, calling him “brother-in-law.” This time, Bum readily agrees, and Hwa-shin happily takes a bite. Aww, so cute.
Na-ri joins them and asks Hwa-shin where he went during that week he disappeared. In a flashback, we see that he visited his brother’s grave, spending his days with his brother and nights sleeping in his car. As he napped by his brother, Jung-won approached him.
Jung-won admitted to finding him only after looking everywhere else, and they shared a drink. Jung-won said that he must like Hwa-shin more than Na-ri, and Hwa-shin laughed at his confession. Jung-won explained that he saw how lonely Hwa-shin looked leaving the station after his public confession, and realized that he was no longer the Hwa-shin he knew. He saw how sincere Hwa-shin’s love was and learned to give up, and said that he decided to see Hwa-shin as a new friend from now on.
Back at the convenience store, Hwa-shin just tells Na-ri that he spent time with his brother and a new friend. Na-ri then suggests that they have dinner together as colleagues, so that they can build a better rapport as news partners. Bum looks at them back and forth as they argue whether or not to have dinner.
The president calls PD Oh and complains about how many commercials they lost thanks to Hwa-shin. He orders that Hwa-shin give up his position and for his banner to be taken down.
Na-ri gets her way, and she ends up making dinner for Hwa-shin. She makes the stew to fit his taste (thanks to Mom’s tip), and she says that they don’t need children because she has Child Hwa-shin. She asks again if they’re really breaking up, and he confirms.
Hwa-shin tells Na-ri to watch her expressions during broadcast because she’ll lose her audience, and Na-ri calls him annoying. He says that she used to admire him wholeheartedly whenever he said these things in the past, and Na-ri marvels at how blind she was.
Na-ri feeds Hwa-shin anchovies because it’s good for his chest, but he spits it out because he’s a child. She tells Mr. I-don’t-even-listen-to-my-mom to listen to both her and his mother, and complains that he always interrupts her during her lines. She warns him that he’ll cause a huge incident being too reckless and accuses him of being worse than Announcer Park.
Hwa-shin is offended to be compared to Announcer Park, but Na-ri justifies her comparison by saying that he makes her way more anxious during broadcast. Hwa-shin claims that he warned her, but Na-ri wants him to collaborate, not dictate. She continues to goad him until he shuts her mouth with a kiss.
Na-ri looks shocked, but she closes her eyes just as Chi-yeol calls for her. She pulls apart from him and quickly rushes him to her bed. She closes the curtains and hides the extra food as Chi-yeol walks in to grab his keys. Na-ri pretends to be eating and drinking alone, but as Chi-yeol leaves, he notices the extra shoes. But Chi-yeol is a merciful mother-in-law today and leaves without mentioning it.
Na-ri rushes over to Hwa-shin and apologizes for pushing him into hiding. She sits down and asks why he kissed her. Can they still kiss while they’re broken up, she asks. Hwa-shin doesn’t know. Then, Na-ri asks if he wants to sleep with her.
Hwa-shin hesitates and asks if she’s really okay with him and not having children. She insists that she’s okay, but Hwa-shin tries to deny it. Na-ri holds his face and says that she’ll take responsibility for him, but Hwa-shin refuses. Na-ri clumsily takes off her sweater with the help of Hwa-shin, and Hwa-shin begins to have second thoughts again.
Na-ri kisses Hwa-shin, but he’s still doubtful that he’ll be able to make her happy. She tells him to raise his hands and tries to take off his sweater for him, and he eventually takes it off himself. They tuck themselves into bed, and Hwa-shin tells her not to wear turtlenecks because they’re hard to take off.
In bed, Hwa-shin asks if Na-ri won or if he lost, and she says that it’s a draw. They begin to kiss, and Na-ri intermittently nags, “No more disappearing.” More kisses. “And eat anchovies.” More kisses. “And sleep well.” More and more kisses.
As they roll over in bed, they knock the TV remote on the ground and turn it on. The TV shows their bed scene but with a new 19+ rating in the corner. And because this show is 15+, this is where we stop.
We’re nearing the end, and it certainly feels like it. Though not the most compelling conflict, I found myself sympathetic to Hwa-shin’s infertility (or subfertility?) as the first real obstacle as a couple. I found his stubborn denial of love and reality sort of endearing, kind of the way Na-ri treats him like a child. Not that infertility is insignificant and petty — but his reasons for his embarrassment are due to his immense pride that he still can’t seem to temper. He’s always been an empty inflated bubble of ego with no substance, and that’s what is so endearing and frustrating about him. And luckily, Na-ri knows how to burst his bubble and genuinely get him, even if she needs to stoop to his level of petty to translate her love.
I love Hwa-shin as a character and Jo Jung-seok as Hwa-shin because his ability to express Hwa-shin’s minute changes in expression was incredible. I joked that I could make a quilt out of the many faces of Jo Jung-seok as Hwa-shin, and with the length of this drama, I could probably make one for each episode. Jokes aside, I think that Hwa-shin was filled with life thanks to the actor that really brought heart and humanity to a character that would otherwise be pretty unlikable. There were problematic things about Hwa-shin as a character, especially when he was pitted against Jung-won as his romantic rival. But there was always a level of sympathy for this character, who slowly recognized the pitfalls of his fragile ego as he fell in love.
While Hwa-shin may get all the credit for his faces and hilarity, I think Na-ri deserves the credit for making him shine. She’s the brave one who’s not afraid to speak with brutal honesty, take risks, and fail. She’s the one who humanized Hwa-shin and made him likable, even in his petty cowardly days. Her growth from the three-year-long crush to now was quite an arc, but I wish I could have seen her grow without the context of these two men revolving around her. I don’t doubt that she would be an awesome human, but there really was no sidekick or other significant relationships that were highlighted with Na-ri. Sure, she had Chi-yeol (who is my favorite dramaland mother-in-law now), but the depiction of that relationship was often truncated. I don’t know who Na-ri is really outside of her relationship with her brother and the boys.
In that sense, I do feel like I’ve been robbed of an aspect of character development in Na-ri. While she took risks in love and her career, I can’t say that I would want to be her friend. I just don’t know who she is outside of love and her career. She’s personable in different ways — as a woman who is very honest and real with her vulnerabilities — but she wasn’t necessarily the most relatable friend-like character. Perhaps, this is not the way Na-ri was supposed to be perceived, and maybe it was just too complicated to add more dimension to Na-ri’s character. But I just wish we had a Jung-won equivalent (as in a best friend) for Na-ri that would give us more insight into her thoughts and relationships.
I do enjoy where we are at this point in the show. Hwa-shin and Na-ri have figured out their dynamic through multiple petty arguments, an incredibly awkward and charged share house, and definitely through their relationship with Bum. Seeing those two with Bum does create an image of a family, and I think the show will make that image a reality. I can’t see the writers making karma work against Hwa-shin again, and the least they can do is give him happiness.
I’m not sure how much the finale will be able to cover, in terms of the world around our couple that really faded away in these last couple of episodes, but I can’t argue with the creativity of this show. There was an element of fun in each episode, and I enjoyed the thought and cheekiness of the production. The background music, the cues for the “No no no no nooo~,” and the incredible manifestation of jealousy in pettiness were just a few details that really added to my enjoyment of this series. My last words for the pettiest couple of the year: Long live ramyun and sexy naps.