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Fight My Way: Episode 9

I’ve been on pins and needles all week waiting to see what happens next, and I’m definitely not disappointed. Almost all of our friends experience bursts of positive growth, making decisions about their relationships that will permanently change their futures. One of the best things about this show is that it gives you exactly what you want, just in a way you didn’t expect. It’s so refreshing to get all of the tropes I count on in a rom-com, but in a way that still manages to pleasantly surprise me.

 
Round 9: “Youth is only youth when you cause trouble”

Ae-ra sneaks into Dong-man’s fight, and she overhears the ladies sitting in front of her gushing over the new handsome fighter. She objects when one of them zooms in on Dong-man’s fine form, though Ae-ra is mostly upset that the woman plans to video Dong-man getting beat up. She sees Hye-ran enter surrounded by reporters, and then the fight starts.

Ae-ra watches nervously as Dong-man takes some hard hits right at the beginning. After a few seconds she can’t take anymore and ducks her head, claps her hands over her ears, and waits for the horror to end. She flinches at the bell, but she can’t bear to look up and see Dong-man beaten to a pulp.

But a hand taps her knee and she opens her eyes to see him peering up at her, perfectly fine. Ae-ra tearfully asks if he has to do this, and Dong-man smiles and says, “I’m in trouble. Now you look pretty even when you cry.”

Ignoring the screaming crowd, Dong-man stands and offers his hand to Ae-ra. She tentatively holds out a finger which he grasps, teasing that she’s acting like such a girl. He leads her through the arena right past Hye-ran, and once alone, Dong-man asks if she’s holding his hand like that because she’s feeling fluttery.

He admits that she’s not the only one who’s feeling that way, and his previous cool falters a bit. Dong-man says that somehow, he only saw her tonight in the arena, and that she’s becoming pretty to his eyes. He continues that even though he used to only think about things like putting her in a headlock and mooning her (hee), now whenever they touch, it feels like skinship. He takes her hand in his.

Ae-ra looks up, confused, and he says that when she looks at him like that, he sometimes wants to kiss her. She’s flustered by his honesty, and Dong-man pleads with her, asking if she thinks about those things, too. Ae-ra begs him to keep those thoughts to himself but she doesn’t drop his hand… and suddenly someone takes Dong-man’s other hand, and they look up to see Coach Hwang standing there clasping Dong-man’s hand, on the verge of tears. HAHA.

After agreeing to marry once Joo-man gets his promotion, he and Seol-hee exit their bus to find his admirer Ye-jin standing there. She’s heard Seol-hee calling Joo-man by a lovers’ endearment, but instead of freaking out, she kicks off her shoes and lies down on the bench for a nap.

A few minutes later Seol-hee sits with Ye-jin’s head in her lap, checking out her rival’s pretty features up close. Ye-jin wakes and asks why Joo-man helped her with the copier, then she lies back down whining that she really liked him. Awww, she’s obviously been drinking, and she’s pretty pitiful.

Joo-man comes back from getting Ye-jin an energy drink to wake her up, and Seol-hee bristles at his attentiveness. Luckily Ye-jin’s mother calls her phone, so they ask her to pick up her daughter. She’s a sweet lady, but it’s strange how she only looks at Joo-man and says that she hopes to see him again.

Coach Hwang drives Dong-man and Ae-ra home, and Dong-man teases him for being a crybaby. Ae-ra realizes that the guys need some time alone and heads to her place, leaving Dong-man looking a bit freaked out at having to deal with Coach’s tears.

Coach says soggily that he’s followed Dong-man around for ten years, but tonight he saw him fly again for the first time. Awww. He tells Dong-man to be good to him and repay him with a life of luxury someday, then insists on a hug. Dong-man reluctantly submits to the most awkward hug ever, worried someone will see them and get the wrong idea, but it makes Coach Hwang so happy.

They jump apart when a voice barks, “Move your car!” It’s Landlady Hwang, who tells them that she doesn’t judge, but they should move their car before continuing with what they were doing. PFFT. Coach Hwang looks a bit stunned by her, sure that he’s seen her somewhere before.

Tak-soo goes into a workout frenzy after seeing Dong-man’s fight in person. Coach Choi and Tae-hee mutter that it’s no wonder Tak-soo tried so hard to block Dong-man from fighting, because he’s that good.

The next morning, Joo-man, Seol-hee, and Ae-ra take turns feeding Dong-man, their new star, who milks it for all it’s worth. Ae-ra is a bit miffed that all of the articles about Dong-man’s fight and how he went to her afterward only mention her as “a fan” and blur out her face. But she’s more concerned about her announcer interview tomorrow at a KBC satellite station, determined to knock this one out of the park.

Ae-ra goes outside to call her father, who worries over how Ae-ra is taking care of herself and offers to send her some money. She says through tears that she hates it when he sends money, grousing that he hardly makes a living with his restaurant. She warns him not to or else, unaware that Landlady Hwang is listening from around the corner.

Dong-man’s PD friend Kyung-ku sees the articles about Dong-man’s fight and makes him an offer to appear on a new show about super rookies. He jokes that he knows what Dong-man’s fists feel like, which makes Dong-man fidget uneasily. There’s clearly a complicated past between them: They make vague references to Dong-man feeling sorry, and mention a blind date sometime in the past.

Kyung-ku tells him not to worry about it, but then he asks about Ae-ra. Dong-man shuts that line of conversation down, and leaves quickly when he gets a text that his fight winnings have been deposited.

At the ATM, Dong-man nearly cries when he sees the healthy wad of cash the machine dispenses. He calls his mom to say he sent her some money that he made doing something he likes.
Though Mom’s first question is whether he caused some sort of trouble, she brags to her friends about her thoughtful son while his dad listens in, and in her room, so does his now-teenage sister Dong-hee. She doesn’t look like a happy girl, but Dong-man seems to dote on her, and he sends her a pair of expensive sneakers.

Joo-man and Seol-hee meet in the office stairwell, where he wheedles for a hug to “charge his batteries.” She pouts at first, then hops into his arms and they start to kiss. One floor up, Ye-jin enters the stairwell and hears the kissy noises, so she creeps down to see who’s having a steamy office romance. But she drops her purse, which alerts Joo-man and Seol-hee and gives them time to escape.

Dong-man teases Coach Hwang for still selling soondae when he’s on his way to stardom. Coach Hwang tells Dong-man to be ready for a trip to a festival in Daecheon tomorrow, to perform and raise some money for the gym.

He refuses to let Dong-man pay for his soondae, no matter how much he insists. So when one of his customers comes to flirt with Coach (HAHA, Dong-man’s grossed-out face at Coach’s aegyo is priceless), Dong-man slips a fat roll of cash into his tip bowl.

He buys gifts for his friends too—a giant stuffed bunny for Seol-hee and an expensive piece of in-game armor for Joo-man’s favorite video game. He says the hammock he just set up is for Ae-ra, but she complains that that’s for everyone. Dong-man says that she doesn’t like toys or games so he couldn’t get her anything, and she yells, “I didn’t ask you to buy something!” Than she whops him upside the head and demands her own gift, HA.

Later they all head downstairs, but Dong-man motions to Ae-ra to decline Joo-man’s invitation for more drinks. Seol-hee sees right through their dramatic excuses and suggests they all go home, and then as she watches them sneak off together, she wonders if those two are about to cause some trouble.

Dong-man makes a big show of rummaging in his jacket pocket, then presents Ae-ra with a small jewelry box. OMG. She opens it to find a gold ring, and he smirks as she gasps. It’s not exactly a pretty ring though, and she asks why it’s so yellow. He says that it’s pure gold and thanks her for playing such a big part in getting him back into fighting.

He says proudly that the gold ring is an investment, going on and on about how valuable it is and how she can someday sell it if she needs money. Ae-ra frowns to realize that it’s not as romantic a gesture as she first thought, but something about Dong-man’s smug grin when she complains about why it had to be a ring, of all things, makes me think might be purposely yanking her chain.

Seol-hee helps Ae-ra get ready for her interview the next morning, and just after Ae-ra complains to the others that Dong-man probably forgot about her big day, he bursts in to dramatically offer her a double-handful of taffy (supposed to be good luck for tests and interviews and such). He gets shy when they ask where he got taffy so early, the fact that he’s covered in sweat giving away that he ran a long way to find it. They all head out for the day together, determined to conquer their challenges.

Dong-man works on some wrestling techniques with a fellow fighter named Doo-ho and ends up with an injured ear from practice. Coach Hwang comes to collect them for their Daecheon trip, and when they ask about Byung-joo (the fighter who lost to Dong-man), he says, “Let’s just say he’s sick.” Hee.

Ae-ra heads to her interview, but unfortunately Hye-ran is visiting a sunbae at the same station. She goes through the resumes and sees Ae-ra’s, and gets a cagey look on her face.

It’s Joo-man’s big day too—today is the day his kimchi account debuts on the home shopping show. When one of the people eating the kimchi on the live broadcast starts to break out in hives, the PD thinks fast and replaces a couple of the actors with himself and Ye-jin posing as a married couple.

As she fields customer calls, Seol-hee sees Joo-man and Ye-jin on TV together, and she snaps. She abandons her station and marches to the recording studio, all the way to the stage until she’s on camera. Everyone stares at her in shock as she glares at Joo-man and Ye-jin like she’s about to make a scene…. but then she starts stuffing her face with kimchi, making it look so good that sales skyrocket.

When Ae-ra is called in for her interview, she frowns to see Hye-ran there. Hye-ran’s sunbae asks the candidates who they think won’t make it through, and when the other two both pick Ae-ra, she’s asked for ten reasons why they should choose her.

She barely gets a word out before the interviewer groans at her stock answer. The woman is extremely rude, muttering that anybody thinks they can become an announcer these days, and she tells Ae-ra to keep her current job.

Ae-ra says that she wants to be an announcer so badly that she couldn’t do that. She asks how the interviewer can know what she’s capable of. Angry now, Ae-ra asks if this is a test to see if she can adapt to pressure, or if it’s a personal attack. The interviewer starts to give Ae-ra some condescending “advice,” but Ae-ra tells her not to, because she doesn’t want to be hurt as well as passed over: “I’ll decide what I’m capable of.” You tell ’em!

As she leaves the interview, Hye-ran follows Ae-ra out to ask if she really thinks she’ll make it in this business. Ae-ra says that she does, because she always thought first place was for the best—but looking at Hye-ran’s success, she doubts that now. She says that she’s sure she can be even better, and when Hye-ran smirks that that’s a big plan, Ae-ra vows to make sure she never smirks at her again.

A text from her father that he’s sent her money makes Ae-ra sigh in frustration, and she calls Dong-man, and Hye-ran overhears her say that she’s going to Daecheon. Dong-man is eating with Coach Hwang and Doo-ho, and he tells Ae-ra that he’s spending the night there. She says she’ll do the same and announces, “I don’t want to go home tonight,” making Dong-man spit his mouthful of rice all over Coach.

After the broadcast, Seol-hee has to explain why she crashed the set. Joo-man argues on her behalf, saying that the sale was a success because of her, so their manager decides she can play the role of the sister-in-law to Joo-man and Ye-jin’s onscreen married couple. Seol-hee mutters that she’s not the sister-in-law, she’s the wife.

The matriarch of the kimchi company arrives, crediting the success of their product to Joo-man. She says that her sister recommended Joo-man personally, and to the surprise of absolutely nobody, we see that the sister in question is Ye-jin’s mother.

She recognizes Seol-hee from the other night, mentioning the team dinner that Joo-man and Seol-hee invented to cover the fact that they were together. It makes everyone suspicious so Seol-hee decides to take her manager’s advice and just tell the truth about her and Joo-man. She blurts out that she’s Joo-man’s de facto wife, telling Ye-jin that she shouldn’t kiss him, and yelling her real name at Manager Choi (who always calls her “Sun-hee”).

But she’s only imagining it—in reality, Seol-hee just hangs her head, unable to speak. Everyone stares and her and wonders why she won’t say anything, and that’s when Joo-man says, “She’s my girlfriend.” Finally! He adds that they’ve been together for six years and that he likes her quite a lot. He politely asks Manager Choi to stop calling her by the wrong name, and says to Ye-jin that he wants her to stop crossing the line.

Once in Daecheon, Ae-ra finds the outdoor stage where Dong-man is performing. The show in progress seems to be a bit of a mess, with an awkward MC and a sparse audience (including the town’s governor) who are definitely not enjoying the show.

When Dong-man’s team goes onstage to break boards with their kicks, a drunk man wanders in yelling that it’s fake. The MC begins to look ill, then she starts to wobble and lurches offstage—ha, she’s drunk as a skunk.

Everyone gathers backstage to decide what to do next, since the singing act is late and their MC can’t stop hurling. Coach Hwang refuses to have his team perform again, and the conversation devolves into chaos as Ae-ra sidles over to Dong-man to ask what’s happening.

Dong-man comes up with a plan to have Ae-ra stand in as MC until the singer arrives. He warns her not to do anything too crazy since the governor is here, but this is Ae-ra we’re talking about. She gets an evil gleam in her eye and warns the director that she’ll only do this if he promises not to interfere.

She marches to the governor and grabs his head—to fix his comb-over, PWAHAHA. She explains that she doesn’t want him to feel upset when he sees the pictures later. She invites everyone to move closer, then she takes the stage.

Ae-ra confidently introduces herself and thanks the governor for providing this festival, giving him another chance to mug for the cameras. She mentions that the singer is late and offers to sing for the crowd, as Dong-man smiles so proudly that he looks like he’ll burst.

Ae-ra proceeds to dominate the stage, drawing a huge crowd with her songs and jokes. Before too long they’re all dancing and having a fantastic time, and the director asks Coach Hwang if she’s with an agency.

After the show, Ae-ra calls her dad to tell him that she got to MC today and they’ve asked her to do it again tomorrow. He offers to drive to Daecheon to see her perform, but she tells him to wait until she’s a star and she’ll shower him in luxury.

She joins the guys for dinner on the beach, over the moon at her success today. She simpers when one of the men refers to her as “MC-nim,” and Dong-man can see the painful aegyo coming. When Ae-ra breaks into her cringe-worthy baby voice, he looks like he wants to crawl under the table.

Her aegyo-bomb makes the whole table freeze in horror, but she just keeps bouncing and singing. Dong-man stares at her, thinking to himself, “She’s… cute.” PFFT, he’s shorted out again, and Coach Hwang has to grab his sore ear to get his attention and tell him to get Ae-ra out of here.

He does, and as they leave the beach, Dong-man does a hysterical impression of her aegyo, then yells at her for calling Doo-ho oppa. He complains that she’s never sung that song to him, then blurts out, “Why were you so cute??” He instantly realizes what he said and is all, Wait what? LOL.

They head to the motel and wait awkwardly at the front desk, where Dong-man says almost hopefully that there’s probably only one room left. But the ajumma at the desk bursts their bubble and says there are plenty of rooms, so they take a pair on the same floor. At their doors, Dong-man asks if Ae-ra won’t be scared, and when she asks, “What, so you want to sleep together?” he gets all flustered again.

After showering in her room, Ae-ra gets the feeling she’s being watched. She looks around to check for creepy hidden cameras, and then discovers a giant cockroach on the wall, and she screams and beats it to death with a tissue box. Dong-man pounds on the door, and Ae-ra goes into full-on girly-mode, thinking that he’s come to her rescue.

Nope, he’s just in his own girly-mode over the roach in his room, HAHA. He runs in and leaps onto Ae-ra’s bed, wrapping himself in the covers and shrieking even louder than Ae-ra.

He makes himself comfortable on her bed, pouting when she tries to make him get on the floor. He says they’ve sat on the same bed plenty of times, but she says it’s not the same. Dong-man challenges her, asking how it’s different, and she’s forced to agree or admit that it is different now, so she sits.

When he turns to face her, she tells him to turn away from her, but he says he can’t because his injured ear is sore. Ae-ra grabs his ear and exclaims over it, putting Dong-man’s brain on the fritz again at the contact. Ae-ra wonders if it’s infected because it’s all hot and red, but Dong-man stammers that that’s not the reason, hee.

Suddenly he stares at her and asks if she’s done something, because her face looks different. Ae-ra starts to get flustered until he asks if she got a filler, HA. He refuses to go back to his own room until Coach Hwang gets back, so she suggests they order some more alcohol and food.

Dong-man says there are menus on the table, and Ae-ra snarks that he must go to motels all the time to know that. He gives her this completely guileless look and says, “It’s my first time.” Why am I swooning??

Hye-ran tries Dong-man at home that evening, and when she gets no answer, she tries Ae-ra’s place. She sneers that they’re both away, and behind her, Landlady Hwang grumbles that she said sleeping together wasn’t allowed before marriage.

The next morning Hye-ran drives to Daecheon, as does someone else—judging by the photo of young Ae-ra hanging from the rearview mirror, it’s probably her father.

In her motel room, Ae-ra is woken by the ringing phone, and she looks over to see Dong-man sleeping soundly beside her. A quick peek confirms the fact that she’s naked, and she wakes Dong-man with a smack to the forehead. Also apparently naked, he sits straight up in bed, and they stare at each other in horror.

Epilogue.

At some point in the middle of the night, Ae-ra cuddles up to Dong-man in her sleep. Also sleeping, Dong-man turns to face Ae-ra, throwing an arm over her and snuggling his face to hers.

COMMENTS

BUT WHAT HAPPENED?? This show is so cruel with the cliffhangers—I need to know what happened now! And good grief, how cute did they look all snuggled up together? My poor heart can’t take how adorable they are, and I need to see a kiss or something soon or I’ll explode.

This was definitely the episode for a lot of positive improvement from our friends. Joo-man finally stepped up and declared his relationship with Seol-hee, and the way he did it in front of his boss, his client, and Ye-jin, made me forgive him a little bit for his wishy-washy reluctance to reveal their relationship sooner. I still think he should have done so a long time ago, but it’s not his fault the show hasn’t told us why he felt it so necessary to keep their dating status a secret, so I’ve decided to just accept that they had a good reason and let my frustration about that go.

I did think that Joo-man’s lukewarm semi-proposal last week was underwhelming, based as it was on so many factors that are out of Seol-hee’s ability to influence and thus giving Joo-man all the control… especially if his reason for delaying a wedding has been because he wants to be able to support them. It’s cheaper for two to live than one, so it seems like getting married would have saved them a lot in double rent over the years. But regardless, I was happy for Seol-hee to finally see Joo-man announce how he feels about her, and so publicly, though I worry that they still have some serious obstacles to overcome.

Ae-ra also made me proud, the way she commanded that stage and turned a flop into a huge success. I think that her future isn’t in announcing at all, but as an MC, because both times we’ve seen her on a stage with an audience, she positively glows. Anyone can read words off a page, but very few people can take control of a sinking situation and breathe life and fun into it, and in that sense, Ae-ra has an incredible gift.

I don’t think I’ve been giving Dong-man enough credit—he may be smarter than we think when it comes to maneuvering Ae-ra right where he wants her. I’m guessing that he knew exactly what he was doing when he got Ae-ra the gold ring, aware that it would make her think he was giving her a couple ring. Dong-man knows Ae-ra better than anyone else in the world, maybe even herself, and he knows that coming straight at her with his feelings will just make her shy away from him (which is exactly what happened when he told her that she makes him want to kiss her).

So I think he gave her that ring to gauge her reaction, and she definitely gave herself away by showing her excitement. Then Dong-man claimed it was an investment to try and push Ae-ra towards him by making her annoyed with him, because it’s when she’s annoyed that she actually acknowledges her feelings for him. The way he was smirking as she was fussing about it, I wouldn’t put it past him to have deliberately gotten Ae-ra riled up about the ring as a way to get her to come to him.

And not only that, but his whole “I’m too scared of bugs to be alone” act was just ridiculous, and I’m pretty certain there was no bug in his room. It was probably just another ploy to be near her and I’m surprised that Ae-ra fell for it—or did she? She didn’t really fight him much on staying in the room together or even sharing the same bed. And she seems to be more than aware of what skinship does to her own feelings, if not Dong-man’s, but she sure was all over him when she was checking out his sore ear. I can’t wait to see what happened after they decided to do some drinking, and learn who exactly made the first move. But Show, I swear if this is another fake-out and nothing really happened, you and I are going to have some words (shakes fist).

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