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Jugglers: Episode 3

Poor Yoon-yi thought that her new job was the end of her problems, but with a boss like Chi-won, the trouble is just beginning. Yoon-yi has always done exactly what her boss wants, but she’s going to have to start thinking creatively if she wants to make her new position work. Chi-won is also poised to make some changes in his outlook, if he can find the courage to face his worst fears.

 
EPISODE 3: “Too much happened to pretend that nothing happened”

During a thunderstorm, Chi-won dreams of voices whispering, “How can he be the only one who didn’t die?… He scares me… I feel unlucky just looking at him… How many people has he killed?” They call him a fake, saying that he has cold eyes and never smiles, and they can never tell what he’s thinking.

As the voices turn into shrieks, Chi-won wakes with a start. After a moment of confusion, he drops his face into his hands and sobs.

Despite Chi-won telling his new assistant to request a change of assignment, Yoon-yi goes in to work the next morning. She hears Chi-won already in his office and starts to knock but pauses, remembering him telling her not to bother him.

Chi-won comes out and nearly runs into her, barely acknowledging her presence before going on his way. When he returns, he notices that Yoon-yi is wearing lower heels than usual, but just mutters that he won’t read the newspaper clippings she’s copying for him.

The newspaper headline announces that the job mostly likely to disappear soon is personal assistants, owing to the invention of the smartphone. But that may not be entirely true, going by the sequence of scenes showing Chi-won, Yul, and Executive Director Jo trying and failing to get their smartphones to understand their instructions. HA, Executive Director Jo’s phone even sasses him in banmal.

At her desk, Yoon-yi seethes at the announcement that Director Bong, her former cheating boss, has gotten his promotion. She vows not to let herself get pushed out by a smartphone, and storms into Chi-won’s office to inform him that she won’t be changing departments.

She explains that because she was branded a seductress, it won’t be easy to find another assistant’s position in the company. She tells Chi-won that if he wants to get rid of her, he’ll have to fire her, practically daring him to find just cause.

Chi-won stares at Yoon-yi, then says blandly, “Do whatever you want.” She’s stunned at his easy agreement and leaves his office in a daze. After she’s gone, Chi-won grins to himself just a bit and says he’ll see how resilient she is.

Yul pops up at Yoon-yi’s desk with a coffee for her, since she’s always the one bringing the coffee. He yells pointedly at Chi-won’s door that children only know how to receive, earning a loud HARRUMPH from inside the office. Yul makes a pun on Chi-won’s name, calling him “Kindergarten.” Yoon-yi giggles, then smacks her own mouth for laughing at her boss.

Yul tells Yoon-yi that she’s pretty when she laughs, and when she stares, he whispers, “Your heart just fluttered, didn’t it?” But Yoon-yi narrows her eyes at him and reminds him of the saying that the three people you can never fall in love with are your boss, your teacher, and your father.

She tells him that she’ll never swoon for him (heh, he just blinks in confusion), but that she has something to ask him, and they relocate to his office. She wants to know how Yul and Chi-won became close, and anything else he can tell her about Chi-won.

Yul asks jealously why she wants to know, so Yoon-yi explains that she needs to know how best to support Chi-won. Yul throws a little tantrum asking why she’s Chi-won’s assistant and begs her to come work for him instead.

Yoon-yi begs right back for some intel, and since it’s nearly lunchtime, Yul takes her to eat and finally tells her what she wants to know. He says he met Chi-won about a year ago, a day he describes as “the day the family prepared for war.”

The men in his family had gathered with their patriarch, all dressed in identical traditional clothing including Yul himself. Chi-won was called in front of them about a news broadcast which had outed YB Group, the family business, for having quite a large slush fund.

Channel Y, the channel that broke the story, is an affiliate of YB Group, and Chi-won had been the managing editor of that channel at the time. Yul speaks up, calling him a sniper, and his father yells at him to keep quiet since they barely stopped an embarrassing story being aired about him.

But Chi-won says that in fact, he left the story about Yul out on purpose, because he felt that the petty story would weaken the report about the slush fund. The family patriarch, Yul’s grandfather, lectures Chi-won on what it means to be family, and how shooting one’s own family only creates a worse injury.

Chi-won says that he’s a journalist who delivers facts, not someone to be led by emotions or relationships. He says their talk about family has nothing to do with him, so if they aren’t happy with his work, they can fire him. He stands to leave, stopping to add that this is the last time he’ll come to a meeting like this. He says that if they ever call him again, “I might air the real exclusive I found.”

The patriarch chuckles that there’s nothing left to report, but he looks extremely nervous. Chi-won asks if he should air an exclusive about why the company is called “YB Group,” which sends the entire room of elders into fits.

Chi-won informs them that their family motto is misspelled, and that one stroke of the pen can change a word’s entire meaning. He says that an outfit won’t change who they are, then makes his grand exit.

Impressed and inspired, Yul calls for his elders to stop acting like noblemen, because the truth is that they’re descended from a servant. His father desperately tries to shut him up, but he keeps yelling that he’s not wearing a hanbok anymore, and will wear a wool suit from now on like Chi-won. LOL.

By the end of Yul’s story, he and Yoon-yi have relocated to the coffee shop in the YB Group building, and have been joined by Yoon-yi’s friend Kyung-rye, who works there. Yul explains that “YB” stands for “nobleman” (yangban), but Yoon-yi thinks it’s not a very juicy secret. She asks if the chairman stepped down because of the shock from that meeting, but Yul says matter-of-factly that it’s because he embezzled a lot of money.

He continues where he left off, telling the ladies that he followed Chi-won out of the meeting and introduced himself. He’d told Chi-won that his grandfather warned him against people who flattered him, and to stick close to those who acted the opposite.

He’d said that he was going to take Chi-won as his brother, and when he touched Chi-won’s jacket, a cold, dramatic wind had kicked up. Chi-won had grabbed Yul’s finger and twisted it hard, telling him to go play family with someone else.

Yoon-yi asks how Chi-won ended up working at YB Group, but Yul grins and says that information isn’t free. He promises to tell her if she finds him an assistant who’s just like her.

Which leads us to Yoon-yi’s friend Jung-ae, who’s taken a job wearing a pig costume and handing out flyers for a pork belly restaurant. When one woman gasps at the prices, Jung-ae points her to a cheaper place down the street, which gets her fired.

She also dismal at phone sales, and she loses a job at a plant nursery when she mistakes a hose for a snake and tramples the tender plants. She walks the streets and passes a photographer’s studio, where a photo of her with her son and husband is displayed in the window.

Yoon-yi’s mother visits Kyung-rye to ask if her daughter has found a man. She says she can smell a man at Yoon-yi’s place, but Kyung-rye laughs and says it’s just because Yoon-yi doesn’t clean.

Mom tells Kyung-rye to find a tenant for the second-floor apartment, preferably a young man who can date Yoon-yi. Evidently, someone died there twenty years ago in a fire, but Mom thinks they should have someone living there until Yoon-yi’s brother is discharged from the army.

Having lost his home in his divorce, Chi-won goes apartment-hunting, but he’s so picky that his realtor ditches him. Meanwhile, Kyung-rye makes a sign listing the apartment for rent on Mom’s instructions, specifying that young men are preferred and will get a discount on the deposit.

When Chi-won gets back to his office, he throws away a message to call someone named Lee Young-ran, then settles in to get some work done. He’s annoyed to see his pen cup full of sharpened pencils instead of his preferred red pens, and he storms out to slam the pen cup in front of Yoon-yi. She says that she thought pencils would be easier to use and nicer than giving people’s work back covered in red marks, but Chi-won demands his red pens back.

Vice President Do calls Chi-won, happy that Yoon-yi appears to be hanging in there. He invites Chi-won to dinner, insisting that Yoon-yi join them. He takes them out for intestines, but he wonders if he should have taken them for steak.

Yoon-yi assures him that she loves intestines and that beef actually makes her ill. Chi-won deadpans, “This is from cows, too.” Yoon-yi insists that she prefers internal organs, which makes Vice President Do grin that Chi-won can’t eat this kind of thing.

She asks why they’re here if Chi-won can’t eat, and Vice President Do says that it’s because she can make Chi-won cook for her. HA, I like him. Annoyed, Chi-won slams some food onto Yoon-yi’s plate and tells her sarcastically to enjoy it. Vice President Do orders some beer, and while Chi-won declines because he drove, Yoon-yi consents to one tiny drink.

About twenty beers later, Vice President Do is adorably pink-cheeked, and he slurs that Chi-won needs a tough woman like Yoon-yi and his ex-wife. Chi-won counters that it’s not that he gets along with tough people, it’s just that he doesn’t know yet how to get rid of them. Vice President Do laughs at him, then passes out on the table.

Yoon-yi is in the bathroom trying to sober up, warning herself to get it under control or she’ll be fired. She stumbles back out to find that Chi-won has called Vice President Do a designated driver, and she drops broad hints for a ride home, but Chi-won ignores them and leaves her to her own devices.

She tries unsuccessfully to hail a taxi, and she ends up lying down on the bus stop bench and falling asleep. Chi-won drives past and sees her, and soon he’s stopping to wake her up. Yoon-yi mumbles the address to her “haunted house,” thinking he’s a cab driver, and he helps her into his car, complaining the whole time.

As Chi-won drives, the half-unconscious Yoon-yi whines about her awful boss, calling him a disrespectful, helpless, and cold-hearted jerk. She slurs that she’ll be crazy good to him and then disappear without warning, so that he’ll truly appreciate her and miss her when she’s gone. Chi-won murmurs that she’s entertaining and cracks the tiniest of smiles.

When he gets to her house, he stares at the tree in her yard like he’s seeing a ghost, asking himself, “Why is this here, of all places?” Yoon-yi presses a 100-won coin into his hand, calling it his tip, then crawls up the stairs to her gate. She manages to get in without help, and when she slams the gate closed, the “Room for Rent” sign that Kyung-rye made comes off the door and blows into Chi-won’s face.

 

Watch the scene

Yoon-yi unleashes a drunken rant

 

In the morning, Kyung-rye calls Yoon-yi, who freaks out when she sees that it’s nearly noon. She runs around in a panic, only to belatedly realize that it’s a work holiday.

She goes to Kyung-rye and Bo-na’s place, horribly hungover but swearing that she didn’t do anything crazy to her boss while she was drunk. Kyung-rye reminds her of that one guy in college and Yoon-yi’s drunken rant at him, which gets her chased around the room.

After being told that the employment agency refuses to place her anymore when she’ll only get herself fired, Jung-ae slumps home to find her son Gun-woo being bullied by loan sharks at the front door. She throws herself in front of Gun-woo, and the loan shark marvels that they’re finally getting a chance to see her.

Gun-woo glares angrily at the loan shark when he mentions that Jung-ae looks too young to be his real mother. The loan shark grabs the boy’s collar, chastising him for daring to glare at him when his father took so much of their money. Jung-ae bites the man’s arm and makes a run for it with her son in tow, and they manage to jump into a taxi and escape.

Jung-ae tells the taxi driver to take them to the bus station, intending to send Gun-woo to Seoul to stay with his grandmother for a while. He asks if his father really borrowed money from loan sharks, but she just tells him to let her worry about it. Gun-woo snaps that she can’t do anything without his dad, hurting Jung-ae’s feelings.

Later, Jung-ae shows up on Yoon-yi’s doorstep, asking for a place to crash for a few days. Yoon-yi is happy to let her stay, joking that she can even turn the lights off to sleep since she won’t be alone with the ghosts.

They settle down for the night in Yoon-yi’s room, and Jung-ae says that she respects Yoon-yi and their friends a lot. She whispers that it’s hard to make money while trying not to make your boss mad, and when you get kicked out you feel pathetic and hopeless.

She sighs that she only knows how to spend the money that her husband brings home, and that now she feels sorry and embarrassed about that. Yoon-yi pats her friend on the shoulder and tells her that she did the best she could, and that it’s not easy becoming a mom at the young age of 22.

She reminds Jung-ae that she sacrificed her youth for her husband, nursed her sick in-laws for ten years, and is a great homemaker. She tells Jung-ae not to worry too much, and that her husband will come home soon and everything will go back to normal. Jung-ae smiles weakly.

Chi-won stands in his hotel room, thinking about Vice President Do telling him to stop being a coward and face his fears. The next morning, he has a meeting with Vice President Do and Executive Director Jo regarding a campaign ad, which has always been the responsibility of Executive Director Jo’s department.

Vice President Do thinks that it’s been their job for too long, because their ad proposal is weak. Chi-won is confident the video department can do a good job with it, but Executive Director Jo retorts that confidence isn’t everything. Chi-won fires back that neither is experience, and Executive Director Jo gets this look on his face as if to say, challenge accepted.

Chi-won suggests that they bid for the new ad campaign. Executive Director Jo accuses Chi-won of trying to compete with him, and Chi-won suavely pushes his glasses up—with his middle finger. PWAHAHA. As Executive Director Jo gapes like a fish, Vice President Do decides that the competition is a good idea.

He tells them to submit a final script by Monday, and they’ll announce a decision on Tuesday. Satisfied with the timeline, Chi-won gets up to go, flipping the bird to Executive Director Jo one more time for good measure.

Filled with impotent rage, Executive Director Jo goes back to his office to throw a tantrum, and he vows to his assistant Bo-na that he’ll acquire the whole video department within a year. He tells her to schedule a dinner for the people responsible for the campaign, and she says she’ll book an escort bar for tonight.

Executive Director Jo orders her to be there as well, and she just barely keeps her eyes from rolling right out of her head. He notices that Bo-na looks angry, so she schools her expression and says she’ll report back after making the reservations. She goes to the stairwell and texts an apology to her father, canceling their plans to celebrate his birthday tonight.

Jung-ae thinks about Yoon-yi’s offer to let her live in the apartment on the second floor. She nervously texts her, asking if she can move her things in this weekend. Yoon-yi answers right away, saying that it’s fine, and Jung-ae smiles with relief.

At the same time, Chi-won meets with Yoon-yi’s mother, who’s delighted to learn that he’s 36 and single with a good job. She brags that her daughter has a good job too, and Chi-won doesn’t let on that he’s Yoon-yi’s boss. Mom tells him that Yoon-yi owns the house, and she sends Chi-won in first, eyeing his butt appreciatively before following him upstairs.

It’s obvious that nothing has been done with the apartment in the years since the fire that gutted it. Seeing the charred interior, Chi-won has a flashback of a fire, and a young boy screaming as someone breaks a window.

He recovers and looks around the place, noticing the skylight which lets the sunshine stream in. He picks up one of the discarded books on a table, seeming charmed by the pictures doodled in the margins. Then Yoon-yi’s mom spoils his reverie by knocking the book out of his hands, sending a cloud of dust into his face, ha.

Chi-won steps onto the balcony and looks at the tree growing up beside the house. He notices one branch, which still looks burned from the fire all those years ago, and he nods to himself. Mom asks if he has a girlfriend, but then her dreams come crashing down when he says that he has an ex-wife. He gets called back to the office, and he tells Yoon-yi’s mom that he’ll be in touch.

The entire video team gathers in the conference room to plan their ad campaign proposal. Yoon-yi is kept busy supplying drinks and support as needed, and Chi-won’s eyes keep finding her every time she enters the room. They work late into the night, until they’re all exhausted and half asleep.

One team member goes to the break room to heat up a snack, but instead of his sausage, he sleepily puts the wrapper into the microwave. The resulting smoke sets off the fire alarm, which sends a cascade of water down on the conference room from the sprinklers.

The team rushes to protect their work, while Chi-won sits in a daze, barely reacting to the carnage. Suddenly he looks up to see Yoon-yi standing beside him, holding the hanky that he dropped to her over his head to shield him. It’s tiny and does no good, and they both end up soaking wet.

The next morning, they’re the only two left in the office, though Yoon-yi has nodded off in her chair. When she wakes, she smiles to see Chi-won using one of her pencils and offers to sharpen it for him.

He hands it over and tells her to go home when she’s done, but she says she’ll wait until he’s finished. Chi-won watches her carefully sharpen the pencil, then turns back to his work.

Once she’s finally home, Yoon-yi can’t sleep because of the loud construction noises coming from the upstairs apartment. Her mom calls, and Yoon-yi whines that “unni” is making too much noise when she’s trying to rest, thinking that Jung-ae moved in.

Mom is surprised, since the new tenant told her that he didn’t have a girlfriend. Yoon-yi is all, “What tenant??” She storms upstairs to give the new tenant a piece of her mind, but she can only stare in surprise when Chi-won opens the door.

She grabs his cheek to see if he’s real, yanking his face around until he informs her testily that this isn’t a dream. He says that he’s the new tenant, shocking Yoon-yi speechless.

 

Watch the scene

Surprise, guess who just moved in upstairs!

 
Epilogue.

When he was looking at the apartment, Chi-won had gone downstairs to get a closer look at the tree in the yard. Yoon-yi’s mom had said the tree was a little scary and promised to have it chopped down, but Chi-won had said not to do that.

He’d looked up into the branches with a smile, saying with a note of awe in his voice, “I like this tree.”

 
COMMENTS

Okay, bring on the cohabitation hijinks! This is a trope I never get tired of, and I love the reversal of Chi-won being the boss at work, but Yoon-yi being the boss at home. It’s interesting that Chi-won chose this home in particular, where someone died in a fire, which triggers his own traumatic memories. Either way, it’s enough to force him to face his fears, as Vice President Do keeps telling him to do, so it’s a step in the right direction.

I can’t figure out if Chi-won is really that much of a jerk, or if he’s just stunted because of the trauma he suffered as a child. Drama-watching experience says jerk, but some of his behaviors lead me to believe that he actually does care about people, but he’s built up such a wall that it’s not easy to let himself step outside his comfort zone. Chi-won has repeatedly left Yoon-yi in difficult or dangerous situations, only to go back almost immediately to help her. I feel like he’s actually a kind person, but that he’s just been hurt so badly that it takes him a few minutes to access that side of himself. Something about Yoon-yi gets to Chi-won’s soft underbelly, and though I don’t think it’s anything romantic yet, I’m looking forward to him developing feelings for her and really being forced to bring his caring side to the forefront.

After learning more about Jung-ae, I really feel for her, because she’s been forced into a situation that’s not of her making and that she’s supremely unequipped to handle. She said herself that she has no idea how to hold down a job, having always spent money that someone else earned. I don’t think she’s not smart enough to hold down a job, I think she’s just a bit innocent of how it all works, and inexperienced in what it’s like to spend your days trying to please a boss.

I’m worried about Jung-ae going to work for Yul as his assistant, because he’s run off better, more experienced assistants than her by the handful. He seems to be a very happy-go-lucky sort of guy, but we don’t know what makes him such a nightmare to work for that women leave the job so stressed that their hair is falling out. That has me worried, because it could be anything, and whatever it is is going to be a nasty surprise. We also don’t know exactly what Yul means when he tells Yoon-yi to find him “an assistant just like her,” so hopefully Jung-ae will have some skill or knowledge that makes her uniquely capable of handling whatever it is that makes Yul so difficult (my guess is that it’s her experience with having a belligerent young son).

It feels like we’re still in the setup phase of our story, and I’m eager to dig in now that our players are almost in their places. Yoon-yi has decided to prove to Chi-won what it’s like to have a good assistant, Chi-won has committed to facing his fears about his past, and Jung-ae is determined to learn how to take care of herself. It’s a solid starting point, and I can see the potential for it to only get better.

 
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