Jugglers: Episode 12
I’m constantly amazed at how Jugglers somehow manages to throw in all of the expected tropes, and yet still seem bright and interesting. I think it’s because of the way that Chi-won and Yoon-yi handle things like jealous exes, scheming coworkers, and overbearing mothers with an attitude of “You can think what you like, but I know what’s best for myself, thanks.” It’s so refreshing to watch them deal with all obstacles with dignity and confidence, and I only hope they can keep it up once things really get difficult.
EPISODE 12: “Be careful, there are no secrets”
While walking home after lunch, Chi-won suddenly tosses something out of his pockets and pretends to be surprised. Hee, it’s a pair of raccoon keychains, and he asks Yoon-yi if she wants one.
She teases him, asking which drama he got this idea from and calling it tacky when he pouts that it was an online forum. Chi-won says shyly that since they can’t wear couple rings, he thought it would be nice to have matching keychains.
Yoon-yi decides that these are better than rings, and they pose for some selfies with their raccoons. Yoon-yi has to remind Chi-won to smile, and the pictures turn out adorable.
When they arrive home they find Chi-won’s ex-wife, Do-hee, waiting to see Chi-won. Yoon-yi refuses to let go of his hand and reminds him of his promise to do whatever she wants today, surprising both Chi-won and Do-hee with her assertiveness.
Undaunted, Do-hee says she’ll stay too, and she asks Chi-won for a cup of tea in his apartment. Not about to leave them alone together, Yoon-yi says they can have tea at her place. Poor Chi-won looks like he wants to crawl inside his teacup as the ladies face off, ha.
Do-hee notes that it’s very clean, and Yoon-yi brags that Chi-won is very good at cleaning. It backfires when Do-hee purrs that Chi-won always did the cleaning when they were married, ha. Yoon-yi tries to take back control by asking Chi-won to fix their bench, but Do-hee fires back by noting that the staircase outside is different than the one she remembers.
Annoyed, Yoon-yi takes a huge gulp of tea and burns her mouth. Chi-won immediately jumps up for some cool water, and his attentiveness makes Do-hee glare at them, looking like she just sucked a lemon.
Vice President Do calls Chi-won looking for Do-hee, needing a guardian for an upcoming test. Yoon-yi tells Chi-won to go, saying that she’ll be fine, and again Do-hee frowns as she sees how much they care about each other.
Still, she looks triumphant as she leaves with Chi-won, leaving Yoon-yi behind alone. Yoon-yi sighs sadly, but she cheers up when Chi-won pokes his head back in to give her his house key (already attached to his raccoon keychain) and permission to read his comics until he comes back.
On the drive to the hospital, Do-hee notes that Yoon-yi did well pretending she wasn’t bothered by their leaving together. Chi-won says, “She’s honest. That’s why I like her.”
Yoon-yi’s mom is upset and preoccupied after having met Do-hee at Yoon-yi’s house earlier. She’d let Do-hee into the courtyard to wait for Chi-won, mentioning that Chi-won told her that he used to live here with his uncle.
Do-he had said it was strange that Chi-won would return to the place where his uncle died. That bit of information was news to Yoon-yi’s mom, who had only then realized that it was Chi-won’s uncle who died in the fire years ago.
Yoon-yi goes up to Chi-won’s apartment and has fun trying on his panther slippers, rolling around on his bed, and flipping through his comics. When she pulls out one book, a photo falls to the ground of a young Chi-won with his uncle, Vice President Do, and Do-hee as a little girl. Seeing how much history Chi-won and Do-hee have together dampens Yoon-yi’s mood, and she slumps back downstairs.
At the hospital, Vice President Do explains that he told Do-hee where Chi-won lives now, never guessing she’d actually go there. Do-hee asks if Chi-won moved there because of Yoon-yi, but he’s saved from answering by a phone call from Yoon-yi’s mother, who asks to meet with him.
She’s not angry this time, only sad and worried. She says that she knows that it was Chi-won’s uncle who died in the apartment. She tells Chi-won that as a mother, she doesn’t want to see her daughter live a difficult life, worried that being with him and sharing his pain would ultimately hurt her. Chi-won says he understands, and he stays there thinking long after Yoon-yi’s mother leaves.
When he finally comes home, Yoon-yi has to tiptoe past her mother and Tae-yi sleeping in the living room to get outside. Chi-won silently holds out a hand, and Yoon-yi takes it, only for Chi-won to quip, “No, my key.” LOL.
But he pulls her closer and tells her that she was cool when she held his hand and said she wouldn’t let him go. He says he felt like a heroine in a drama, and Yoon-yi slings an arm around his neck and tells her to trust him, like a drama hero. Chi-won says seriously, “Of course I trust you. That’s why I’m with you right now.”
The following morning, he finds Yoon-yi at her desk looking at apartment ads. She says that they have to move out since her mother is selling her shop and moving back home.
Chi-won deadpans that he has no plans to live together with her, making Yoon-yi protest that she didn’t mean they would live together, just move out together. He plays a corny prank on her and goes into his office, and at his desk nearby, team member Chi-woo pops up from where he’s been sleeping at his desk again. Uh-oh, he heard them talking about living together.
Executive Director Jo is in his office, upset that he couldn’t get any pictures of Chi-won and Yoon-yi before that lady chased him off. He calls in Bo-na and confirms that it was Yoon-yi’s mother, and Bo-na offers to get some evidence for him. To start, she invites the other three friends to lunch.
Yoon-yi is too happy that Bo-na seems to be over her upset to be suspicious. Bo-na turns off her phone when nobody’s looking, and she says it’s not working and asks to borrow Yoon-yi’s. She heads to the restroom with it and finds the selfies of Chi-won and Yoon-yi, texts them to herself, then deletes the text thread.
After lunch, the Hwangbo minion calls Jung-ae to ask her to meet with him, and not to mention it to Yul. She asks why, then refuses to meet with him without knowing the reason and says that she won’t lie to her boss. She hangs up after firmly telling him to come to the office if he wants to talk to her. Good girl.
Yul has an upcoming business trip to Hong Kong for an e-sports match. He marvels at how well Jung-ae has everything planned down to the tiniest detail, and he admits that he worried at first that she wouldn’t make it. He declines a call (maybe from the Hwangbo minion?), and they head to a joint meeting with Chi-won’s team.
All during the meeting, Chi-soo stares at Chi-won and idly doodles “living together” in his notebook over and over. Both Chang-soo and Team Leader Gong notice, and Team Leader Gong whispers that he’s lost it.
Executive Director Jo is overjoyed by the obvious couple photos of Chi-won and Yoon-yi. He calls an emergency board meeting, where he goes on and on about sex scandals and ethical violations by corporate executives. When he gets to the part about bosses seducing their employees, he scratches his forehead with his middle finger in Chi-won’s direction.
Nobody can figure out why that required an emergency meeting, but Yoon-yi remembers how Executive Director Jo seemed to be onto her and Chi-won, and she worries that he knows something. She gets a call later, and she asks Chi-won if she can leave a bit early to take care of something.
He heads to the hospital, where he Vice President Do jokes that he’s getting spoiled when Chi-won helps him shave. He tells Chi-won to forget what he said about wishing he was his father-in-law again, and to ignore Do-hee. He tells Chi-won that it’s his life to live as he pleases.
Yoon-yi’s call was from Do-hee, who says that she was surprised to learn that Yoon-yi is Chi-won’s assistant, and that he doesn’t usually date. Yoon-yi replies that he even moved into her house, and that it’s not really surprising anymore, but destiny. Do-hee asks how long they’ve dated, saying that her secret weapon is that she’s known Chi-won for twenty years, and lived with him for two.
Chi-won calls Yoon-yi, who just says that she’s busy and will call him later. Next he calls Do-hee, wondering why she’s not back at the hospital yet, and she tells him that she’s with Yoon-yi. When they hang up, Do-hee says that she and Chi-won have no secrets because Chi-won hates when people lie and talk behind his back.
She tells Yoon-yi that Chi-won appears cold and aloof at first, then he’ll seem to open up once she pushes herself in. But over time she’ll realize that he didn’t really open up, but was only trying to, because he’s not capable of opening his heart to anyone.
Meanwhile, Chi-won rushes to the cafe, but Yoon-yi is gone by the time he gets there. He sits down with Do-hee and says that he doesn’t regret marrying her, and that he’s sorry for making her lonely for all those years. He thanks her for caring for him, but he adds that that’s all he feels for her.
She asks him how he feels about Yoon-yi, and he says honestly, “I’m nervous that she’ll leave me. That I’ll have to let her go. It scares me.” He reminds Do-hee that she once said that they should be happy together, and he says that he wants to be happy separately now.
Do-hee is upset, but she acknowledges that Yoon-yi is pretty incredible. We see that after she told Yoon-yi that Chi-won can’t open up to anyone, Yoon-yi had serenely disagreed. She’d said that Do-hee’s many years with Chi-won have nothing to do with her, and that even though Do-hee gave up on Chi-won, she never will.
She’d added confidently, “You tried to change him, but I don’t want to do that. I love that man, Nam Chi-won, as he is, with all of his scars. That’s why I will never give up.”
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Mood-maker vs. mood-killer
Chi-won arrives home to find Yoon-yi waiting outside his door. He hugs her tightly, and a bit desperately, and soon they’re in his apartment, sitting on his bed and kissing passionately. Chi-won gently lays Yoon-yi back onto the pillows, and she unbuttons his shirt and removes his glasses.
Just when things are getting hot and heavy, Chi-won starts to struggle with Yoon-yi’s stuck zipper, and the mood is broken. A knock on the door sends Chi-won lurching out to glare at Tae-yi, who proudly shows him the alcohol he brought. Chi-won just slams the door in his face, hee.
But Tae-yi gets in by calling out that they need him if they want Mom on their side. He sits on the floor, drinking and reading Chi-won’s comics, while Chi-won and Yoon-yi try to murder him with their brains.
Chi-won eventually asks Tae-yi why he’s here, and Tae-yi hands over yet another copy of his resume. Chi-won just rips it up without looking at it, saying that he won’t get a job through connections.
Tae-yi is still there in the morning when Yoon-yi wakes up alone in Chi-won’s bed. She sneaks down to where Chi-won is asleep on the floor and little-spoons him, then flips over to grin at his adorable sleeping face.
But then she gets a text consisting of the three photos of her and Chi-won leaving the house, and it reminds her of the post on the company website accusing her of seducing her old boss. She spends the day obsessively checking the company site, wondering who in the office might already know. She can’t even focus during a team meeting, which Chi-won notices.
The team discusses their new program, the purpose of which is to report corruption and impropriety in the company and discuss ways to prevent them. Chang-soo points out that they already have a lot on their plate, but Chi-won feels strongly that this is an important project.
Jung-ae gets a call and runs out of the office when she sees who it’s from, so she misses an announcement that they’ll be working late tonight. Yul’s team whines that they miss the times when Yul never worked and they had it easy, and they blame Jung-ae for the change.
The call is from Gun-woo’s school, and Jung-ae panics to hear that her son was hanging out with delinquents and was injured when he fell off a motorcycle. She runs to grab her things, and when Yul hears she has an emergency, he offers to give her a ride.
On the drive, Yul reassures Jung-ae that everything will be fine, and that he’ll have a talk with Gun-woo. He sees that she’s barely holding it together, and when she blames herself, he says she’s a great aunt. He asks jokingly if she’s really Gun-woo’s mother, but she doesn’t answer.
He drops her off at the school, and he’s still there when she comes out a short while later chasing after Gun-woo, who storms off angrily.
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A son comforting a mother
When Jung-ae sinks to her heels and sobs, Yul goes to her and tries to comfort her. He says that she’s crying much harder than he was, and he gives her his handkerchief. He tells her to stop crying, and Jung-ae nods but continues to cry while Yul pats her back.
Still preoccupied, Yoon-yi accidentally finds herself in the elevator alone with Executive Director Jo. She asks him nervously if one of his “lines” is in her department. He denies knowing what she’s talking about, but she tells him that whatever he’s up to, she won’t tolerate it. As she steps out of the elevator, Executive Director Jo calls out that she must have a powerful backer.
She spends the afternoon glaring at her coworkers, wondering who could be the mole. She can’t think of anyone who might know about her and Chi-won, until Chang-soo bounces over to tell her that he ate her love note to Chi-won. Chi-won catches Chang-soo singing to Yoon-yi and firmly escorts him away from her desk.
While driving back to the office alone, Yul tries to figure out why Jung-ae would be so upset about her nephew. He realizes that she left her phone in his car when it rings, and he picks it up to see that the call is from “my sister Mi-ae.” Well, if he didn’t know already, he will now.
Vice President Do is back at work, and has a meeting with with Chi-won and Executive Director Jo. Chi-won tells Executive Director Jo about his whistle-blowing program, and when Executive Director Jo objects, he says that this is the reason he came to YB Group.
Executive Director Jo complains that this is a waste of time, shooting Chi-won another thinly-disguised double bird. Chi-won just says that Executive Director Jo must have a lot of dirty laundry he doesn’t want aired, and Executive Director Jo fires back that Chi-won must have nothing to hide.
Having kept quiet until now, Vice President Do tells Executive Director Jo that he should be thankful to Chi-won for uncovering the defective component in the TVs before they were sold. Executive Director Jo is forced to agree to support Chi-won on his project.
But on the way out, Executive Director Jo tells Chi-won that he has a death wish. Chi-won retorts that rot needs to be removed from the inside, and Executive Director Jo wonders if he’s qualified to hold the knife. He asks if there’s nothing Chi-won is ashamed of, and Chi-won says honestly that there isn’t.
Angry at Chi-won’s arrogance, Executive Director Jo makes a phone call and tells the person on the other line to get ready.
Chi-won and Yoon-yi leave work at the same time, but Yoon-yi hangs back. In the lobby, she urges Chi-won to go on ahead, and he leans down to ask her cheekily if she’s done something wrong. She notices that everyone seems to be staring at her disapprovingly, and she pulls out her phone to check the company website.
There it is, the thing she’s been dreading — an article about her and Chi-won living together, complete with their couple pics. Yoon-yi realizes that everyone is gossiping about her and the fact that this happened with her last boss, calling her names and making vulgar assumptions.
She staggers, and Chi-won catches her from falling. He sees what she’s reading, then they both look up to find Executive Director Jo and Bo-na, standing nearby looking triumphantly smug.
After Chi-won ends the meeting earlier in the day, the rest of the team stay in the conference room to gossip that they noticed Chi-won and Yoon-yi’s matching keychains. Chi-soo loudly insists that they’re not dating and runs out, and they all agree that he must be right.
Then Team Leader Gong looks directly into the camera and asks, “You didn’t really think we don’t know, do you?” Ms. Moon also breaks the fourth wall, saying that she’s been covering for them. The rest of the team tell the audience that everyone knows, and the camera focuses on the dry erase board, which says, “Office romance… Confess, Chi-won and Yoon-yi!”
It was only a matter of time before this happened, and honestly, I wish that Chi-won and Vice President Do had discussed it and come up with some way to mitigate the damage when word got out about his and Yoon-yi’s relationship. I don’t think that interoffice relationships are forbidden at YG Group (since Vice President Do has been encouraging them the entire time), but that doesn’t mean that this won’t be very bad for them, particularly Yoon-yi. She’s only just now getting past her unearned reputation as a seductress, and now everyone will see her as someone who is careless at best, and trying to sleep her way to the top at worst. It does look pretty bad that they’re living together, and the fact that they’ve been keeping it a secret just makes the whole situation seem more sordid. I’m not looking forward to the fallout.
I was so proud of Yoon-yi in this episode, for keeping it classy whenever Do-hee was around. Do-hee seems like a genuinely nice person, but she was definitely being pushy and passive-aggressive — she should have backed down the moment Chi-won said he was dating someone, but instead she kept pushing herself on him and trying to intimidate Yoon-yi. Yoon-yi took the bait a few times in terms of snarky comments, but it was so great when she let Do-hee know that she’d had her chance with Chi-won, and that now it’s Yoon-yi’s turn. She wasn’t rude or possessive, she was just confident in her feelings as she told Do-hee that the difference between them is that she doesn’t want Chi-won to change.
I was just as proud of Chi-won for the same reason, because he had already told Do-hee several times that he’s with someone else now, but he realized that she needed to hear him say, with crystal clarity, that they would never be getting back together. Again, he was kind and gentle about it, when he wouldn’t have been wrong to be angry and more forceful with her. He just said that he can’t love her like she wants, and that Yoon-yi makes him feel things that Do-hee never made him feel.
Until now I’ve thought that Yoon-yi’s mother was being unforgivably intrusive about Chi-won and Yoon-yi’s relationship, and that she’s judged Chi-won too harshly for being a divorcee. But in this episode I finally understood why she was so worried about her daughter dating Chi-won, and I didn’t blame her for saying something to him. She sees Chi-won as a man who’s been deeply hurt, who no doubt carries a lot of scars related to his parents’ and uncle’s deaths, and she’s genuinely sorry for what he’s been through. But she probably correctly guessed that his divorce had something to do with those scars, and she doesn’t want to see Yoon-yi end up heartbroken and alone for the same reasons.
That doesn’t mean that I think Chi-won should break things off with Yoon-yi, and happily, he doesn’t seem to be considering that. But he does need to think long and hard about whether he can make Yoon-yi happy in the long-term, or if he’s likely to let his past block him from forming a true connection with her like he did with Do-hee. He seems to feel a lot of guilt for hurting Do-hee, and rightly so, if what she said is true that he wasn’t capable of opening his heart to her. But hopefully he’ll realize that Yoon-yi is worth the effort of making a true change, and he’ll let himself be vulnerable with her.