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Fox Bride Star: Episodes 5-6

Fox Bride Star is turning out to be more thoughtful and socially aware than I expected, taking on issues like sexism, classism, and even sexual assault with grace and strength. As it turns out, Yeo-reum’s problems are caused by some pretty serious mistreatment in her past, which explains a lot about her behavior and why she craves praise so desperately. It’s enough to change my opinion of her to the positive, and I hope this trend in the storytelling continues.

 
EPISODE 5: “Relationship anxiety syndrome”

Yeo-reum’s father once told her that where he works, hundreds of stars land every day. Yeo-reum thinks, “That’s where I met him. A man with an arm and a hand that can’t feel pain.” She wonders if that’s why he’s such a self-imposed loner and prefers not to be noticed.

She wonders whether his arm has been that way since birth or if there was an accident, and she promises Soo-yeon that she won’t tell anyone his secret. She offers to eat lunch with him, but he declines, then tells her that they’re transferring from Terminal One today.

She assumes she’s done something wrong like the last time she was transferred, so she demands an explanation from Seo-koon, but she just says that she doesn’t have to come with the rest of them if she doesn’t want. When she realizes that the transfer includes Manager Gong and Soo-yeon, Yeo-reum snaps at Soo-yeon for not telling her and letting her get so scared. She quickly packs, happy now that she’s being taken along with the others.

A woman waits impatiently at baggage claim for her luggage, and she’s embarrassed to see it’s been tagged for inspection due to its contents exceeding the duty-free allowance.

Yeo-reum is a little awestruck when they arrive at Terminal Two, which is huge and beautiful. Soo-yeon sees her looking around, but instead of getting annoyed, he takes another look too. Yeo-reum giggles at Soo-yeon’s adorably befuddled expression when he’s followed by a cleaning robot.

The Terminal Two office is huge and impressive, but Soo-yeon barely notices — he’s staring at In-woo with a frown on his face. Yeo-reum is horrified to see In-woo, who gave her a harsh dressing-down a year ago, then gave her a two-month salary deduction and threatened to fire her if she caused any more incidents.

During introductions, Soo-yeon only gives In-woo the tiniest of nods then asks where his desk is, and In-woo smiles to himself like he knows what that’s about. Manager Gong complains about how rude Soo-yeon is, then notices that Yeo-reum is missing. Ha, she’s hiding from In-woo, but she’s found by her former boss, Team Leader Lee. She dumps her entire desk’s contents on the floor as she stands, causing everyone in the office to look over at her. So much for keeping on the down-low.

Soo-yeon thinks about the other night, when he’d walked home and found Seo-koon waiting for him. She’d asked why he wasn’t answering his phone, and if he planned to cut all ties now that he’d given notice. Soo-yeon had answered, “I don’t want to live trapped in people’s misperceptions of me. I want to be a nobody. That’s how I want to live.”

Seo-koon had quipped that he’s too handsome for that, and had told him about the upcoming transfer to Terminal Two. She’d said that he’d be able to meet the person he’s curious about… Seo In-woo. The name triggers a quick flashback of a voice yelling “Hyung! Hyuuung!” and someone on a scooter crashing head-on into a truck. Soo-yeon had taken Seo-koon’s advice and come to work, but he keeps staring at his hand, then at In-woo.

Yeo-reum interrupts his musings to ask for a moment, and she tells him frantically that between In-woo and Team Leader Lee both working here, she’s dead meat. She explains that In-woo gave her the salary reduction, and that Team Leader Lee hates her because she’s a woman and is mean to his staff.

Then a voice behind her intones, “I can hear you.” LOL. Whoops, it’s Team Leader Lee. He tsks that only a woman would be so clumsy as to talk loudly behind someone’s back, and Yeo-reum is all, “See?”

Team Leader Kwon holds a meeting to introduce all the managers to each other. Seo-koon and In-woo get to officially meet Team Leader Lee, and Team Leader Heo Young-ran from Commercial Facility Services. Seo-koon and Young-ran clearly know each other, but their relationship isn’t good based on the way they immediately start sniping at one another (about Seo-koon’s supposed wedding and Young-ran’s supposed divorce).

The new manager for Security is a bit late, and Seo-koon’s eyes go wide when she sees that Team Leader Choi is also transferring from Terminal One. He flirts outrageously with Young-ran, but he’s cool towards In-woo. He follows Seo-koon out of the meeting to ask why she’s in such a bad mood, and she asks why he followed her to Terminal Two.

She tells him to go back to Terminal One, but he says vaguely that he can’t. Seo-koon stomps back to her desk, thinking about how Soo-yeon confessed that Team Leader Choi’s interest in him makes him uncomfortable. She’d reassured him that the move to Terminal Two would put him out of Team Leader Choi’s reach.

Meanwhile, Soo-yeon is sent to Customs, and on the way he runs across Yeo-reum on the phone with her friend Eun-seob, complaining about the new job and how all of the higher-ups hate her. When Eun-seob doesn’t say what she wants to hear, she tells him that she needs to hear “It’s okay” and “You’re doing great,” because she’s doing her best, but nobody ever says that to her.

Eun-seob says it’s okay, but he adds affectionately that she’s a troublemaker. He reminds her that things get worse when she’s upset, and tells her to cheer up and get back to work.

When she hangs up, Soo-yeon approaches her, and she heads to Customs with him. On the way, he advises her to stop worrying about what she wants to hear, and start getting rid of what she doesn’t want to hear, like Team Leader Lee’s sexist comments. Yeo-reum argues that as an ordinary employee, she could get in trouble for telling a supervisor to stop saying such things, but Soo-yeon asks how she knows if she’s never tried.

The lady whose luggage was marked for having too much undeclared merchandise takes her bags into the ladies’ room to yank off the stickers. She complains to security guard Young-joo, thinking she’s a civilian, and Young-joo calls for Security to come check this out.

While rounding up abandoned carts, Yeo-reum hears the two arguing (“Do you know who my dad is?””If your dad is such a big shot, then you should be able to afford the taxes on the stuff you bought.”) and she goes in to try to calm them down. They ignore her and the argument gets physical, ending with Young-joo getting bitten on the arm.

Young-joo lets go of the passenger and Yeo-reum grabs her around the waist, trying to stop her from dropping the customs stickers in the toilet. The passenger is successful, then turns and slaps Yeo-reum across the face. Young-joo grabs her again, puts her in a headlock, flips her to the ground, and holds her there until Security arrives.

Soo-yeon grows guarded when he runs across Team Leader Choi walking with security guard Dae-ki. Team Leader Choi grins to know that they’re both working in Terminal Two and holds out a hand to shake, but Soo-yeon just stares and his own right hand twitches involuntarily. Finally he says that his hands are dirty from handling carts, and leaves without shaking.

He heads back to the office and goes straight to Seo-koon. She says that she didn’t know Team Leader Choi was being transferred to Terminal Two, and when Soo-yeon tries to quit, she tells him that everyone faces difficulties. He argues that he’s different, but Seo-koon says that he can’t run away forever. She asks him not to do anything yet, and let her deal with Team Leader Choi.

Suddenly they’re distracted by Young-ran screaming Seo-koon’s name.

EPISODE 6 RECAP

The belligerent passenger’s suitcase is full of purses and shoes, but she still demands that Yeo-reum and the guard kneel and beg forgiveness. When it’s discovered that Yeo-reum was involved, Young-ran accuses her of helping the guard wrestle the passenger to the floor. Though Yeo-reum tells Seo-koon that that’s not what happened, Young-ran is in no mood to let the matter go.

Young-ran demands to know who the security guard was, but Team Leader Choi says that he’ll handle it. Young-ran informs him that the passenger is the daughter of a congressman and is threatening to sue because she has a cut on her face. Yeo-reum defends herself and says that the woman bit the off-duty guard and slapped her first.

Seo-koon orders them both to stop, and she takes Yeo-reum aside, where Team Leader Choi tells her that it’s okay and asks who the security guard was. She’s reluctant to throw Young-joo under the bus and just repeats that they only tried to stop the passenger from destroying the customs stickers, and they got verbally abused, slapped, and bitten by her.

Team Leader Choi says that the woman still got hurt, so he needs to know which guard was involved. With a glance at Dae-ki (who seems to have figured it out), Yeo-reum fibs it wasn’t someone she knows. She’s sent back to her desk, and Team Leader Choi says that he thinks she’s lying. When he gets free, Dae-ki calls Young-joo.

Soo-yeon watches Yeo-reum sympathetically when she gets back to her desk. He’s the only one who notices when she tears up and gets sniffly. He volunteers to fix the water dispenser in the Immigration office, knowing that the belligerent passenger will be there, and he listens surreptitiously as she takes a call from her lawyer.

Team Leader Kwon hears the story and goes looking for Seo-koon. She puts herself physically between him and Yeo-reum and says calmly that the events haven’t been confirmed yet. But all he cares about is that a congressman’s daughter got a teeny scratch and is trying to sue the airport. He orders Seo-koon to make Yeo-reum kneel and apologize, uncaring that Yeo-reum was attacked first.

Their argument escalates until Yeo-reum says that she’ll go apologize, because the pride of a female employee isn’t worth much. Team Leader Kwon warns that if she mishandles the apology and the media gets word of this, he’ll expect her resignation letter. As they’re heading to meet with the passenger, Dae-ki is on the phone with Young-joo, who’s trying to get back to the airport.

The look on Yeo-reum’s face is pure misery as the passenger smirks at her. Hilariously, Soo-yeon (still working on the water dispenser) runs his electric screwdriver and drowns out Manager Gong’s voice, and when Manager Gong addresses him, he’s the very picture of innocence. He does it again, and the look Yeo-reum gives him is so pitifully grateful for his subversive support, it’s heartbreaking.

She remembers him telling her to get rid of things she doesn’t like hearing, and that staying quiet won’t help her hear what she wants to hear. She and Soo-yeon exchange a look, and she hesitates when it’s time to kneel.

Instead of offering an apology, Yeo-reum says, “In regards to what happened in the restroom… apologize to me.” Soo-yeon very nearly smiles at her, and even Seo-koon looks impressed, but the passenger calls her crazy. Yeo-reum continues that the passenger was in the wrong, taking off the duty-free limit sticker and becoming verbally and physically abusive.

She wonders why she’s always apologizing instead of speaking up for herself. She imagines speaking up for herself to In-woo a year ago and telling him the truth — that a drunk passenger sexually assaulted her, and her response was self-defense, not a failure to control her temper.

Now she tells the passenger that although it’s part of her job to be polite, she doesn’t have to accept insults. She insists again on an apology, and by now Seo-koon looks downright proud and Soo-yeon is practically grinning.

The passenger starts screaming that she’s going to sue them all, until she hears her own voice speaking to her lawyer. HAHA, Soo-yeon recorded her end of the conversation, and everyone hears her beg her lawyer not to tell her father what happened. She also says that she’ll scare the airport employees with an empty threat to sue, and as “settlement” she’ll take the items that Customs caught her with.

Soo-yeon is all “Oh goodness me, whatever shall we do with this file that I totally accidentally recorded?” The passenger starts screaming about her father again, but Soo-yeon tells her to go home and throw a fit at her big shot father if she wants to throw one.

Young-joo finally shows up, but it’s all over. Manager Gong calls the passenger stupid, wondering why she would make that call with Soo-yeon in the room. Soo-yeon says she’s not stupid, “She just saw me as a nobody.” Manager Gong agrees that to people like her, people like them aren’t human.

Later, Seo-koon finds Yeo-reum, who apologizes for putting Seo-koon in a difficult position. But Seo-koon says that’s part of her job, and that it was refreshing to see a female employee speak her mind. She tells a stricken Yeo-reum, “You did well,” and Yeo-reum gasps out a tearful, “Thank you.”

Nearby, Soo-yeon watches Yeo-reum cry, and when Seo-koon runs into him, he claims sheepishly that he was just passing by. She asks about the water dispenser, and he says that he kinda fixed it… though it falls to pieces the first time someone tries to get a drink. LOL.

Seo-koon tells Soo-yeon that he can be in charge of “the water dispenser” from now on. He thinks back to her telling him to come to work like normal. When he’d asked if Yeo-reum would be coming to Terminal Two with them, she’d confirmed that Yeo-reum would stay with their team, and he’d given himself a little smile. He smiles now as he watches Yeo-reum fan her face, trying to stop crying.

The robot vacuum finds him and chases him out to where Yeo-reum can see him. It follows him until he comes face-to-face with Yeo-reum, nearly falling on top of her, and they both freeze to find themselves so close. They look at the robot vacuum, which wanders away innocently, and they both start to laugh.

Yeo-reum tells Soo-yeon that she was about to text him to thank him for giving her the courage to speak up. Instead she thanks him in person, calling him by name, and it rattles him a bit. He asks why she doesn’t ask him about his hand, and she says that she thinks it must be painful to answer questions about it all the time.

After a pause, Soo-yeon tells her that there was an accident a long time ago. We flash back to a much younger Soo-yeon on a scooter, following a van and screaming for his hyung. When the van suddenly stopped, Soo-yeon had slammed into it hard enough to send him flying backwards, landing on a parked car.

Nearby, In-woo watches Soo-yeon and Yeo-reum talking, and he particularly looks at Soo-yeon’s right arm and leg. Another quick flashback shows the injured Soo-yeon lying in the street, his right arm missing and his right leg bent at an unnatural angle.

When she gets off work, Dae-ki and Young-joo are waiting to talk to Yeo-reum. Dae-ki thanks Yeo-reum for what she did, but Young-joo says grumpily that she didn’t have to take all the blame. Yeo-reum invites them to go for a beer with her and Eun-seob, and they all talk about how they came to work at the airport.

Dae-ki admits it’s for the uniform, Young-joo says she wanted to use her judo skills, and Eun-seob quips that it’s the awesome pay. Yeo-reum says seriously that she works here because of her father, but she doesn’t go into detail. She looks out at the planes and thinks, “Stars land every day at my workplace too. Hundreds of stars land and take off every day. My dad called that place ‘Fox Bride Star.’”

At the same time, Soo-yeon has a beer at the Fox Bride Star bar, and he tells the bartender that he’s thinking about staying at Terminal Two a while longer. He says that he’ll quit if anything happens, and Bartender Jang just asks if his arm is still acting like a magnet. Bouncing his bottle cap off his arm, Soo-yeon says it’s fine now, but Bartender Jang decides to get a closer look.

Still at the airport, In-woo gets a copy of Soo-yeon’s personnel record and takes note of his mother’s name: Kim Joo-hyun. He suddenly remembers Soo-yeon’s accident from his own viewpoint inside the van, and strangely, his own face had been cut and bruised at the time. Shaking, he whispers, “How did he survive?”

Bartender Jang is obviously more than a bartender — he takes out some fancy equipment as Soo-yeon rolls up his sleeve to reveal that above the wrist, his arm is made of very complicated-looking metal. Inside the arm, sparkling lights swirl in beautiful patterns.

 
COMMENTS

So many new mysteries and questions! I love how the show doles out answers that just bring up more questions. Now we know that Soo-yeon has a prosthetic right arm due to an accident, and possibly something also involving his right leg, but knowing about the accident only makes me more curious. In-woo is obviously the “Hyung” that Soo-yeon was screaming for, but why was Soo-yeon chasing him, and why did In-woo look beaten? And why did he never see his brother again, not even to find out if he survived the accident? There certainly seems to be something strained between them. But that still doesn’t explain why Soo-yeon is so shy about his arm — having a prosthetic isn’t that unusual, but he still seems unnaturally strong and resilient, not to mention intermittently magnetic. That arm didn’t look like the usual prosthetic, so something about it is what makes Soo-yeon prefer not to draw attention to himself. And what’s the connection between the Fox Bride Star bar, and the fact that that’s what Yeo-reum’s dad affectionately called the airport?

I love how Soo-yeon is starting to quietly support Yeo-reum, and even help her in his subversive way (I nearly choked every time he ran his screwdriver and drowned out Manager Gong!). I’m not sure yet what it is about Yeo-reum that brings out Soo-yeon’s protective side, except that he seems touched by her earnest desire to do well at her job, even when she’s doing everything wrong. She’s just got a skewed way of looking at things, so I liked his advice that instead of focusing on being praised, she should instead try to stop getting criticized, which is a pretty good place to start. She’s trying so hard to get praise that she’s sabotaging herself, so instead of whining about how everyone is so meeeeean, Yeo-reum needs to stop doing the things that are attracting the criticism and speak up when something is genuinely unfair.

For example, Yeo-reum was right that she didn’t do anything wrong in the confrontation with the passenger. The woman was much more violent than Yeo-reum or Young-joo, biting and slapping them, when all they did was restrain her when she got out of control. Young-joo should have stayed and made a report, especially since she acted while off-duty, but that’s not Yeo-reum’s fault. The only thing that Yeo-reum should have done different was to be completely honest and give Young-joo’s name, because if they were truly guiltless, there’s no harm in saying who else was involved. I do wish that the truth about her previous confrontation had been explained last week, because I feel like, if we’d known she was sexually assaulted and then reprimanded for defending herself, we might have gone easier on her for overreacting to subsequent incidents. I know that that knowledge changes my opinion of Yeo-reum, and I respect her for finally finding her voice and insisting that, while it’s her job to give good customer service, she’s not obligated to take the blame for every interaction when she’s the one who was attacked.

Regardless of her past though, it was good to see Yeo-reum encouraged and supported to stand up for herself, when most of the male higher-ups expected her to lay down her pride and apologize whether or not she did anything wrong. If this has happened to her before, it’s no wonder that Yeo-reum is oversensitive when it comes to confrontation with customers, and it took a lot of courage for her to shake that off and demand that she get an apology when she was wronged. The customer is not always right, and in this case, the customer was just rich and spoiled and making a fuss in order to get out of their legal responsibility to pay taxes on the things they purchased. I’m proud of Yeo-reum for being strong enough to resist, and insisting on being treated as an equal human being no matter her gender or position on the job. My opinion on her has completely flipped, and while she’s still not perfect, she earned a lot of my respect for what she did.

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