Fight My Way: Episode 4

With pressure coming at him from every side, Dong-man is having a rough time lately. He’s torn between dissatisfaction with his life as it is and his fear of striking out for what he wants. It doesn’t help that his feelings for Ae-ra are confusing the hell out of him, especially when she’s having some pretty puzzling feelings herself. If they can’t learn to talk instead of just arguing, they’re never going to be able to work out the truth.

 
Round 4: “Just go for it!”

Dong-man feels stunned and betrayed when he realizes that Coach Hwang has brought him to a fight where his old rival, Tak-soo, is competing. He asks Coach why he’s being so cruel to him, but Coach Hwang counters that it’s Dong-man who’s being cruel to himself. He points to Tak-soo currently strutting around the ring like he owns it, and says that both he and Dong-man did stupid things, but Dong-man is the only one feeling guilty.

As he watches the fight, Dong-man can’t help but remember how his own body felt when he used to execute those same moves. Tak-soo knocks out his opponent with a roundhouse kick, the very move that used to be Dong-man’s specialty.

We’re taken back to 2007, to the fight that ended Dong-man’s career. Before the match, a man tries to convince Dong-man to throw the fight. Dong-man doesn’t even acknowledge him, and the man (he’s Tak-soo’s coach, COACH CHOI) gets irritated.

He tells Dong-man to give in so that everyone wins, but with a wry laugh, Dong-man says that nobody would win. He says confidently that nobody in his family wants him to lose, vowing to win the gold, pay off his family’s debts, and even make Dong-hee healthy again.

Coach Hwang gives Dong-man a pep talk on the way to the arena, reminding him that winning this fight means a trip to the Beijing Olympics. Dong-man’s father surprises him by showing up to watch before gruffly telling his son to win, or else.

Dong-man faces Tak-soo in the ring, and Tak-soo is good, but Dong-man is better, winning point after point as his blows land solidly. But then a tiny voice calls out from the stands, “Dong-man! You can do it!” Dong-man turns to the stands and sees his mother with Dong-hee, his tiny, frail little sister. Dong-hee is obviously very sick and in a wheelchair, but she cheers her big brother with all the energy she can muster. He stares up at her pale little face, conflicted.

We hear Coach Choi’s voice saying that Dong-hee could walk if she had a certain surgery, and Dong-man makes a terrible decision. As the match continues, Tak-soo clips Dong-man’s shoulder with a kick, and Dong-man goes down.

Dong-hee cries for her oppa to get up, screaming that she’ll never speak to him again if he doesn’t. But as the referee counts to ten, Dong-man doesn’t move, though it looks as though it takes superhuman effort to stay there.

A further flash to before the match shows Dong-man’s mother angrily telling Coach Choi that they’ll pay him back for the medical bills he paid without asking. Coach Choi says that if Dong-man lets Tak-soo win the spot on the national team, Tak-soo’s father will pay off all of the family’s debts. Dong-man’s father upends the garbage over Coach Choi’s head and kicks him out of their house, while Dong-man listens from his room.

Dong-man throws the fight for his family, shaking with humiliation as he lies on the mat. Tak-soo is declared the winner, and Dong-man finally sits up, heaving great, heartbroken sobs over what he just gave up.

But the referees conclude that the tiny kick Dong-man received couldn’t possibly have knocked him out of the fight. A press conference is held to announce the discovery that the fight was rigged, and Dong-man, Tak-soo, and their coaches all wait to face the reporters.

Angry that they got caught, Tak-soo tells Dong-man to go out there and take all the blame. Coach Hwang snaps at Tak-soo for being a spoiled brat who bought his way to where he is, and for ruining the chances of someone who actually has talent.

Coach Choi explains that Tak-soo’s father has an election coming up and doesn’t want Tak-soo’s part in the rigging to be known. Tak-soo tells Dong-man that if he doesn’t shoulder the guilt alone, he’ll make him pay back the money his family has been paid.

Once alone, Dong-man finally says a shaky “I’m sorry” to Coach Hwang. Coach asks how he could do such a thing without talking to him, saying that he thought they were more than just coach and student. Dong-man says he’ll go alone so that Coach Hwang doesn’t take any of the blame and risk his teaching future. Coach Hwang slaps Dong-man, grabs him by the wrist, and leads him out to face the reporters together.

Back in the present, Dong-man waits for Coach Hwang outside the arena. But it’s Tak-soo who exits the building first, and he stops when he spots Dong-man. Bristling, he asks why Dong-man is here, accusing him of showing up because he needs money. (I can see that his personality hasn’t improved.)

Coach Choi tries to move Tak-soo along, but he seems to enjoy taunting Dong-man, and he even calls him a beggar. Dong-man just calmly asks if Tak-soo is scared, sneering that his rambling proves that he’s afraid Dong-man will make a comeback.

Tak-soo gets aggressive and shoves Dong-man while his manager warns him to remember the CCTV cameras. With a nasty smile on his face, he asks Dong-man if his sister can walk yet, and Dong-man snaps. He throws a side-kick into Tak-soo’s ribs, then executes a perfect roundhouse kick right into Tak-soo’s face. YESSS.

He screams, “If you’re going to copy my move, do it properly, you bastard!” He tells the whimpering Tak-soo that it’s too soon to be this scared, roaring that if they ever meet in the ring, Tak-soo is dead.

When Coach Hwang finally exits the building, he finds his soondae truck surrounded by reporters. They ask if his dashboard camera is working, offering to buy the footage from tonight. Coach Hwang sells them the video, which is quickly uploaded to the internet, and he watches the video of Dong-man knocking Tak-soo over with one perfect kick with his mouth hanging open.

Meanwhile, Dong-man has wandered off in a bit of a daze. He answers his phone when his work supervisor calls him, but hearing the jerk rant at him is the last straw. He thinks about that kick he landed tonight and hears Ae-ra’s breathless voice saying that people should do what they love.

He screams into the phone that he can’t do any better at his exterminator job because he hates it, then quits. He hangs up and keeps screaming, repeating that he’s going to go for it. Go Dong-man!

Coach Hwang drives back to his gym, where Dong-man races up to him, still high on adrenaline. He yells near-incoherently that he wants to do martial arts again, and after confirming that he isn’t drunk, Coach Hwang starts screaming right along with him. They’re so cute.

Ae-ra also takes steps to pursue her dream and stops on her way home to have a photo taken so that she can apply for announcer jobs. She’s taken aback when Moo-bin drives up, saying that he heard women like surprises like this, and she tells him that women most definitely do not. Moo-bin admits that he’s missed her and that he’s been waiting here for an hour, and he invites her to spend the rest of his break together.

The home shopping network goes out for a company dinner, and Seol-hee ends up sitting next to Ye-jin, feeling frumpy next to Ye-jin in her pretty clothes and manicured nails. From across the table, Joo-man carefully stills his expression as his boss insults Seol-hee, then he pours Ye-jin a drink to keep the mildly lecherous boss from doing it.

Joo-man runs into his boss in the restroom, who asks if Joo-man plans to get married. He suggests the pretty Ye-jin as a candidate, since she also happens to be the chaebol daughter of a large food manufacturer.

They head back to the dining room, where the boss jokes that Seol-hee looks like black-and-white TV next to Ye-jin’s technicolor. Joo-man doesn’t respond, but he does throw one of his boss’s shoes out of the restaurant when he’s not looking, hee.

Though Ae-ra lets Moo-bin drive her home, she admits to herself that she doesn’t like this. He plucks at her sleeve when she starts to get out of the car, and Ae-ra asks if he’s expecting her to invite him in for ramyun (code for inviting someone in for sex).

She tells Moo-bin that he’s fun to tease, because his horrified reactions are cute. He decides not to be cute and takes her by the hand, then flashes a shy little smile. Hilariously, his GPS announces that they’ve gone off course, and Ae-ra growls internally, “I know…”

As Joo-man and his coworkers wait for their cars, Ye-jin sends Joo-man flirty little smiles. His boss points out Ye-jin’s (too pricey for her job) car. Ye-jin offers Joo-man a ride home, but he says he has plans and declines.

Moo-bin stubbornly insists on staying until Ae-ra gets to her door safely, which is exactly what she doesn’t want. She lies that she lives way up at the top of the stairs, and he warns her away from the weirdo on the second floor (Dong-man, ha).

With perfect timing. Dong-man runs up calling Ae-ra’s name, and he’s so excited to tell her his news that he doesn’t notice her alarmed expression. He grabs her in a bear hug, spinning her around and telling her excitedly that he quit his job to go back to martial arts.

Ae-ra forgets all about Moo-bin as Dong-man tells her how he plans to compete again and make a good life for his family, including Coach Hwang and her. Awww. He hugs her again, which is when Moo-bin decides to confront him.

Dong-man recognizes him and wonders what he’s doing at “our house,” which makes Moo-bin blink confusedly. Ae-ra explains that they both live here in separate apartments. The guys tell Ae-ra that they went to high school together before Moo-bin takes her wrist to possessively pull her closer to him.

He tells Dong-man that he and Ae-ra are dating, ignoring her protests as he orders Dong-man not to hug her anymore. Ae-ra tells Moo-bin that she and Dong-man are best friends, but he counters that that’s just what people say when they want to keep that person near.

He tells Ae-ra to stop being friends with Dong-man, but she argues that they’re like siblings. Dong-man doesn’t seem to like her version of their relationship and says bluntly that they’re not siblings.

He tells Ae-ra that he doesn’t like the idea of her dating Moo-bin, both of them confused as to why he’s acting this way. Dong-man admits that he doesn’t understand it, but this is how he feels. There’s a long, awkward silence, then Moo-bin gets called back to work.

Dong-man says a curt goodbye and takes Ae-ra by the wrist, but Moo-bin blurts out that he’ll accept her offer of ramyun. (Wait, that offer she didn’t make?) Dong-man looks at Ae-ra like she’s grown another head, and she stammers that it was just a joke.

Moo-bin presses the issue, and the way Ae-ra stares at him incredulously, while Dong-man stares at her incredulously, is hilarious. Dong-man actually starts to call Ae-ra’s dad to tell on her, ha.

As they bicker over whether it’s any of Dong-man’s business, Moo-bin backs down, admitting that that was ungentlemanly of him. Dong-man is all “I know right?“, but Moo-bin actually pushes him aside to ask Ae-ra to eat now. He pulls her by the wrist, but Dong-man grabs her other wrist and says that he’s hungry too.

So all three end up at a ramyun shop, Dong-man childishly ignoring the other two. Ae-ra asks Moo-bin if they were close in school, and they chime in unison, “Not at all.” Dong-man adds that he could never be friends with chirpy little jerks, and Moo-bin counters that he doesn’t like dumb jocks. Well, meow.

Moo-bin attempts to talk to Ae-ra, saying that he wanted to see her so badly today that he’s going to be late to work and may be fired. As he talks about how much he thinks of her, Dong-man laughs, heaves giant sighs, and loudly slurps his ramyun.

When Moo-bin asks Ae-ra out on a real date, Dong-man yanks her chair closer to him and away from Moo-bin. She complains, but she doesn’t scoot back over to Moo-bin, either.

Seol-hee admires a lacy dress in a shop window as she waits for Joo-man. She’s gotten ice cream all over her face, and he absently cleans her up, asking why she wears a work uniform when it’s not mandatory. She says that it’s cheaper than buying clothes, so Joo-man offers to buy some pretty outfits for her.

Seol-hee objects to spending his money, but he spots the lacy dress and pulls her inside to try it on. She looks beautiful in it, but the high price tag has her hesitating. Joo-man buys her the dress, but as they leave the store, Seol-hee objects that she has nowhere to wear it.

Joo-man suddenly blows up, yelling at her to wear it to work. He keeps going, saying that she should wear her favorite color and act girly, and to stop letting others walk all over her. Seol-hee yells back that the dress isn’t even her style, and Joo-man groans that her style is “cheap.”

Frustrated, he says that he knows she’s cheap because she’s spent six years supporting him, and that he’s grateful — but now, it feels suffocating. When Seol-hee’s face crumples, he sighs and apologizes.

Without a word, Seol-hee tosses the bag with the dress away, hails a taxi, and leaves in tears. Feeling like a jerk, Joo-man retrieves the dress and tries to get another taxi, but it’s Ye-jin (her car being driven by a designated driver) who pulls up to offer him a ride.

After they eat, Ae-ra asks Moo-bin to please leave now, while Dong-man shoots him some major stink-eye. Again he refuses to go until he sees her inside, so she and Dong-man start up the stairs together. Dong-man notices her discomfort, so he takes her by the hand and keeps going past their doors, saying that he doesn’t want Moo-bin to know where she lives.

Secretly pleased, Ae-ra agrees, but she stops every few steps to see if Moo-bin has left yet (he hasn’t), and Dong-man is highly amused, HA. Finally, he leads her all the way up to their rooftop bar.

In the car, Ye-jin notices the dress and makes a point to say that pink is her favorite color as she shows Joo-man her pink, bejeweled nails. Joo-man says they’re pretty, which starts Ye-jin simpering at him again. He asks to be let off at Seol-hee’s favorite ddukbokki restaurant, and when Ye-jin suggests they eat together, he says diplomatically that soon, he’ll treat all the interns at once.

At first, Ye-jin accepts this, but then she jumps out of the car to say that she wants to eat alone with him. We don’t see his answer, but as he walks home with ddukbokki for Seol-hee, he wonders why Ye-jin is acting like this. But then he stops at a claw machine game and wins a pink stuffed dog.

Moo-bin finally leaves, but Ae-ra doesn’t want to talk about him — she wants to know why Dong-man quit a steady job to get back into martial arts. She forbids it, worried that he’s out of shape and could get hurt, but Dong-man says that she doesn’t get to decide.

Serious now, he asks why she can apply for an announcer’s job after years of not trying, yet she thinks he won’t amount to anything. Ae-ra lists all of the injuries that MMA fighters suffer, but Dong-man protests against her assumption that he’ll lose.

Ae-ra yells that even if he wins, he still gets hit. Realizing that her anger is actually concern, Dong-man grins, then gets angry all over again when she compares it to seeing your dog get beaten up. HA.

Ae-ra orders Dong-man to get another job and starts to storm off. But he grabs her wrist and spins her into his arms, which (because he’s sitting) puts his face right in her chest. He very carefully looks anywhere else, then stammers in a hilariously low voice that he’s not finished talking.

Flustered, Ae-ra shoves Dong-man and reminds him of her “no touching” rule. He pushes her down to sit next to him and tells her to just play with him instead of going on dates with Moo-bin. Ae-ra asks why he followed them to the restaurant, but Dong-man just blinks, then says in a squeaky voice that he was hungry.

Ae-ra wants answers, asking why he cares who she dates. Dong-man blusters that it’s because they’re friends and pushes her hand away when she pinches his chin to make him look at her.

She grabs his neck and pulls his face very close, making it crystal-clear that the way he’s behaving is unacceptable. She tells him not to confuse her or she’ll kill him, but I doubt he’s heard a word she’s said, judging by the glassy look in his eyes.

Dong-man sits up all night, confused and restless, annoyed to have suddenly discovered that Ae-ra is attractive. Ae-ra can’t sleep either, wondering why Dong-man seems very masculine lately.

Joo-man convinces Seol-hee to try on the pink dress again, then groans that she can’t possibly wear it because it makes her look too gorgeous. He snuggles up to apologize, asking if she’s going to keep sleeping in her own apartment.

She wants to know exactly what he’s sorry for, so he says he’s sorry for buying the dress and for raising his voice. Seol-hee asks if that’s all, but since he has no clue, he instead exclaims over her “fiery” skin today. That wins him about two-thirds of a Good Boyfriend point.

Having somehow discovered where Dong-man lives, Hye-ran shows up on his doorstep. She asks someone in full welding gear how safe these apartments are, and the person takes off their welding mask to reveal that it’s not only a woman, but the new owner.

In a dry voice, she asks Hye-ran why someone wearing thousands of dollars in designer clothes would be interested in a place like this. Hye-ran haughtily says that she’s not, and the owner sneers that she doesn’t rent to pretty girls because they lead noisy lives.

Hye-ran protests that she lives a clean life, and that divorce is no big deal these days. The owner says that this building is quiet, wholesome, and peaceful, clearly implying that Hye-ran is none of those things. HA, I like her already.

Joo-man and Seol-hee exit his apartment, then gasp to see Hye-ran there. Seol-hee physically blocks Hye-ran from ringing Dong-man’s doorbell and yells for Ae-ra, who comes out in her raggedy sweats to face off with her enemy.

While Seol-hee and Joo-man make supportive stinkfaces at Hye-ran, Ae-ra asks if Hye-ran thinks Dong-man will take her back after the way she dumped him. Hye-ran says that she does, and Ae-ra reminds her that she hits girls. LOL.

Dong-man comes outside and finds himself face-to-face with Hye-ran, who immediately becomes all sweetness and light, cooing a soft, “Oppa…” at him. Seol-hee gasps that she’s at it again, and we see a montage of Hye-ran showing up in front of Dong-man over and over again throughout the years. All it takes is a pout and a sugary “Oppa…” to reduce him to putty in her hands.

This time, Dong-man manages to hold onto his stern expression when Hye-ran says that she’ll call him later. Ae-ra stops her from leaving, warning her that even though Dong-man may be a moron, she’s willing to go to bat for him. Seol-hee and Joo-man agree, but Hye-ran tells them all to stay out of this.

Ae-ra refuses, letting Hye-ran know that she’ll have to go through her to get to Dong-man. With a smirk, Hye-ran wishes her a hearty “Fighting!” before leaving.

Epilogue.

Ae-ra and Dong-man split up at their doors, but Ae-ra suddenly spins around to invite Dong-man in for ramyun. Looking shocked, Dong-man shyly agrees. Rawr!

But she means actual ramyun, which they stuff into their faces while watching TV. Subtitles inform us that between friends, inviting someone in for ramyun just means inviting them in for ramyun, HA.

 
COMMENTS

It all makes sense now — what happened in 2007, and why Dong-man felt that he could never go back to martial arts. He’s been nationally branded a cheat and a dirty player who threw a fight for money. I’d been hoping that whatever happened wasn’t Dong-man’s fault, so it landed hard to realize that what happened was by choice — yes, the money was tempting, but he didn’t have to take it. And no matter the reason, cheating is a stigma that could very well keep him from ever fighting again, or even teaching, even if he wanted to. So he’s been telling himself that he doesn’t want to, because it’s less painful than admitting that he’s exactly what everyone says he is.

I also understand why Dong-man carries so much resentment for his father — if he hadn’t lost his business, Dong-man wouldn’t have felt pressured to throw that fight to pay for Dong-hee’s medical bills. And seeing little Dong-hee crying for her oppa to stand up and win while he felt forced to lay there and give up for her had to have broken a part of his soul. But he can’t deny his heart forever, and the way he responded when he landed that perfect spin-kick to Tak-soo’s face was incredible. He was so thrilled, and it was like he suddenly got his life back when he realized that his talent hadn’t left him. I’m happy that he got his spark back, and can’t wait to see him fighting again.

I’m glad that we’re finally getting a closer look into Joo-man and Seol-hee’s relationship, which seems pretty solid on the surface, but the cracks of longtime familiarity are beginning to show. Joo-man is obviously committed to Seol-hee, but he hesitates when marriage comes up, even though he should know if he wants to pull the trigger or not after six years. But seeing Ye-jin flouncing around looking like a million bucks every day is causing him to see Seol-hee in a different, unflattering light. He complains that she’s acting like his mother when she buys him a nice bag and seems embarrassed of her plain work uniform and lack of effort to look better. The problem is that he shouldn’t care how she looks (even though she’s still gorgeous), because what’s inside is what counts, and I don’t blame Seol-hee for getting upset when she realized that he’s bothered by the way she looks.

This episode was the first time I didn’t find Moo-bin adorable and disarming — his obliviousness to how women work isn’t so cute anymore, and his behavior is becoming problematic. He and Ae-ra haven’t even been on one date, yet he was being very manipulative (such as when he said he might get fired for being late to work because of her), not to mention acting possessive of her in front of Dong-man, which is just not okay with me. I’m sure that losing the girl he liked to Dong-man back in high school was contributing to his bad behavior, but that doesn’t make it acceptable for him to start dictating who Ae-ra can be friends with. Ae-ra is a person, not a belonging or something to fight over. She gets to decide which guy she wants to date, or neither, full stop.

To Dong-man’s credit, he didn’t respond like a Neanderthal. I really thought that seeing Ae-ra with another guy, even if she wasn’t into him, would cause him to get all territorial, and though he sort of did in a way, it wasn’t nearly to the extreme that I was fearing. Even though he did tell Ae-ra that he doesn’t want her dating Moo-bin, the way he phrased it felt more like a request, not an order. His childishness when they had dinner didn’t bother me either, because I don’t think he consciously knows why he’s acting this way, and nothing he’s done is directly disrespectful of Ae-ra’s wishes. Moo-bin, on the other hand, seemed to be purposely pushing her buttons and kept trying to get his way even when she was showing clear signs that she wasn’t that interested.

I think that this is just the beginning of Ae-ra and Dong-man’s friendship turning a bit rocky, because they both seem to be responding to their growing attraction by lashing out at each other. At least they’re being honest about it, with Ae-ra telling Dong-man that all this skinship is confusing her (though it cracks me up that she’s the one who keeps breaking his brain with all the closeness and the touching), and him admitting that he’s attracted to her. But it’s probably going to get a lot worse before it gets better, at least until they can tamp down their aggressive responses and have an actual talk about what’s happening between them. And talking isn’t exactly their strong suit, so I predict a lot more fighting in their near future.

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