Jugglers: Episode 8

Is there any more entertaining part of a drama than when the hero starts to get petty and jealous over the lady, especially when he has no idea why he’s suddenly such a grump? Chi-won is beginning to behave in ways that mystify everyone, himself most of all. I knew it would be epic when Chi-won hit this necessary phase of his growing crush, but I had no idea how childish he could get, or how hilarious it would be.

 
EPISODE 8: “I can’t control my heart”

Young Chi-won sits at a triple funeral, alone and in tears. He overhears mourners saying that it would have been kinder if he’d died as well, and that nobody will want him after he killed his entire family.

A pair of paint-splattered hands covers his ears, and he looks up into the kind face of his uncle. Chi-won cries that it’s all his fault, asking if he’ll truly never see his family again, but his uncle says that from now on he’ll be his father and his mother.

But only a few years later, Chi-won and his uncle are trapped in a house fire. His uncle saves Chi-won’s life, but he dies in the blaze as Chi-won watches helplessly.

In the present, Yoon-yi watches over Chi-won as he lies in the hospital, still unconscious after the attack at the BBA competition. She leaves the room briefly, and he’s gone when she comes back. Frantic with worry, she searches the hospital, until she gets a call from Vice President Do asking to meet with him.

He kindly acknowledges that she must have been shocked, then tells her that he was once friends with Chi-won’s uncle. He says his friend was a street artist who drew murals and portraits, and once he was commissioned to draw a movie sign for a children’s film.

Being only eight years old, Chi-won had begged and whined to see the movie. So the whole family had driven to Seoul together, where they got into the accident that killed his parents and older sister. Vice President Do tells Yoon-yi that Chi-won lived with his uncle for a while, until his death in the fire.

Recalling that Chi-won told her mother that he’d lived in the upstairs apartment with his uncle, Yoon-yi realizes to her horror that his uncle was the man who died in the fire all those years ago. It explains Chi-won’s extreme terror of flames, and Vice President Do asks Yoon-yi to stay by his side as a source of strength in spite of his many scars.

Chi-won visits an old mural that his uncle drew, smiling wistfully as he remembers his uncle bragging over his own artistic spirit. Yoon-yi finds him there, having been tipped off by Vice President Do, and she approaches him with an expression of sorrow and pity.

Chi-won says that she probably knows everything she wanted to know about him now, but Yoon-yi says that this isn’t what she wanted to know, or how she wanted to learn it. Seeming not to hear her, Chi-won continues, “I don’t think I should have let you stay by my side from the start. Ever since I met you, everything’s been a mess.”

Yoon-yi asks tearfully what she can to do make him feel better, and he says coldly, “Disappear from my sight.” Panic rising in her voice, Yoon-yi insists that she isn’t responsible for the video about his family’s accident. She begs him to believe her, but he just says,”I can’t trust you anymore,” and walks away leaving her stricken.

He finds Vice President Do and yells at him for telling Yoon-yi about his past, and for making her pity him. Vice President Do snaps that there’s nothing wrong with pity, because pity just means that someone cares. Chi-won tells Vice President Do to stay out of his business and turns his back on him.

He sits in his car that night, recalling the moment he lost his trust in Yoon-yi. Assistant Director Jo had called him while he was still in the hospital, and had played the recording of his and Yoon-yi’s first meeting, when he’d told her to be his spy. Chi-won had paled as he heard Yoon-yi asking Assistant Director Jo what he wanted her to do.

Yoon-yi takes a taxi home, sobbing her heart out as she also thinks about that conversation with Assistant Director Jo. He hadn’t played the end of their conversation for Chi-won in which Yoon-yi had firmly refused to report anything to Assistant Director Jo, willing to lose her job rather than be disloyal, even to a boss she barely knew.

The next morning, Chi-won’s team discusses the debacle at the BBA competition, which was canceled after Chi-won passed out. Assistant Director Jo tries to wheedle Vice President Do into declaring him the winner, arguing that a boss who passes out isn’t a good leader, but Vice President Do sends him out with a one-finger salute worthy of Chi-won.

Yoon-yi braves Chi-won’s office, intending to give him his schedule, but he cuts her off. She asks if he’s okay, but he just takes a folder from her and heads off to a meeting without a word.

Yoon-yi follows him, but he holds the doors open for her to get out, the way he did when they first met. Then Yul and Jung-ae join them, and she has to stay or draw their attention to the fact that something is wrong.

After the meeting, the assistants gossip about Chi-won as they straighten the conference room. Yoon-yi gets fed up with their negative chatter and orders them to stop talking bad about her boss, but they just accuse her of staying with Chi-won because she pities him.

Yoon-yi’s temper flares, and she threatens to rip the lips off the most outspoken of the assistants. The woman grabs her by the hair, Yoon-yi grabs her back, and it’s not long before all the assistants are brawling.

Meanwhile, Chi-won pulls Assistant Director Jo aside and tells him not to use Yoon-yi to get to him again. Assistant Director Jo lies that he only asked her to keep an eye on him, blaming her for taking it too far. He claims that he was as shocked to see that news clip as anyone, and Chi-won says with deceptive calmness, “Then should I put you on the news, too?”

He tells Assistant Director Jo that the real reason he transferred to this job from Channel Y is to reveal the people like him, who use their title to oppress the weak. He says that he’ll do things his way from now on, and all Assistant Director Jo has to do is look forward to it.

Bo-na had entered the room at some point during their argument, and she’d crept back out again, unseen. Her father texts her asking for help with his rent, and she replies for him not to worry.

On his way back to his office, Chi-won hears shrieking, and he goes to the conference room to find Yoon-yi pinned to the floor by four other assistants. He bellows, and Yoon-yi shakes off her attackers then stands in front of him, shivering. But instead of yelling at her, he whispers, “Let’s go,” and leads her out with an arm around her shoulders and a parting glare for the other assistants.

In the elevator, Yoon-yi thanks Chi-won for coming to her rescue. She tries again to tell him that what happened at the BBA competition wasn’t her doing, and she swears that even though Assistant Director Jo recommended her as Chi-won’s assistant, she’s never betrayed him. Chi-won only tells her to treat her hand, having noticed that she got badly scratched during the fight.

Assistant Director Jo confirms with Bo-na that she’s good friends with Yoon-yi, saying that friends are just enemies you haven’t attacked yet. He tells Bo-na that Vice President Do is retiring next year, and that if he gets promoted, so will she. He makes it clear that if she wants to improve her situation, she’ll find out why Chi-won fainted on stage.

On payday, Jung-ae beams at her bankbook, excited to have received her first paycheck ever — until her teammates expect her to buy them treats, ha. She asks Yul for advice on choosing pair of sneakers as a gift, but he offers to go shopping with her instead, assuming the sneakers are for him.

He’d sent Chi-won the video from the night he got drunk, and Chi-won winces to see himself sloppily yelling “I love you!” at the ajumma server that night. Yul joins him for lunch, grinning that he’s holding onto the original as blackmail material.

While they eat, Yul’s usual cheerful mood fades. He says that he has no siblings, his father was always busy, and his mother died when he was barely two. He tells Chi-won that he doesn’t even know what his mother looked like because his father had all of her pictures destroyed.

He continues that at least Chi-won was loved by his parents and has memories of them, which makes him far better off then Yul. This seems to resonate with Chi-won, who tells Yul that his mother must have been beautiful because Yul has such a pretty face.

Yul brightens, saying that Chi-won has good insight. He asks if Chi-won is using that insight to see what kind of person Yoon-yi is, because it’s hard to find an assistant like her, as he well knows.

Back at the office, Team Leader Gong gives Chi-won the news that they’ve found a buyer for some video content. The only hitch is that they want to be shown a good time tonight, so Chi-won tells him to book a hostess bar and he’ll join them after an offsite meeting.

Yoon-yi is having a terrible day — Chi-won continues to ignore her, and her mother sends a text that she’s lined up a blind date. After work, Team Leader Gong calls her at the last minute to ask her to go to the hostess bar in his place, as his mother is ill.

When Chi-won arrives, he finds a wild party in progress, with Yoon-yi pouring drinks for a guy who’s slobbering all over her. All business, he sits down with the contract for the client to sign, which he does quickly before turning the music back on.

 

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I hate people treating you like that

 

The man that Yoon-yi was serving pours his drink all over her skirt, and instead of apologizing, he just whines that the liquor was wasted. Yoon-yi is dragged onstage under protest, and Chi-won hits the boiling point. He turns off the music and announces that he’s leaving, and he takes Yoon-yi with him.

He rounds on her once they’re outside, asking why she does things he didn’t tell her to do, angry that she didn’t call him first. Yoon-yi apologizes, but then she flares up at Chi-won, asking why he’s so mad when she was only trying to help the team close the deal.

He yells back, “I hate it! I hate people treating my assistant that way.” He loses momentum, and he puts his coat over Yoon-yi’s shoulders and tells her to go home. She smiles as she walks, and when she finds medicine and bandages in the coat’s pocket, she realizes that he got them for her injured hand.

Chi-won goes back to the office, where Vice President Do finds him brooding. He says that he knows Chi-won is living at Yoon-yi’s house, and teases that he must like being stuck to her day and night because he wouldn’t spend an hour with someone he didn’t like.

Staying in his office late into the night, Chi-won imagines Yoon-yi there with him. She brings him a third cactus and tends to the growing garden, straightens his desk, and replenishes his pencils. She brings him coffee and he stands to talk to her, but she disappears.

He eventually goes home, stopping in the yard to touch the ginkgo tree, and thinking about Vice President Do saying that he must like being around Yoon-yi all the time. Yoon-yi steps outside to return his coat and thank him for the medicine, making him smile.

But he shocks her by telling her to find a new tenant as soon as possible. She asks why, and he says that being around her at work and at home has grown uncomfortable.

In the morning, Jung-ae finds Gun-woo in his room and says she’s throwing away his worn-out sneakers. She asks why he said she’s his aunt at the police station, and he asks if it hurt her that he didn’t say she’s his mother. She assures him that it didn’t, and that she’ll explain everything later.

She meets Yul at the shoe store, where he picks out a sharp pair of sneakers, and Jung-ae gapes at the price tag. Yul gives the saleswoman his own shoe size, which is when Jung-ae realizes that he thinks the shoes are for him, but she can’t bring herself to let him down and blows her paycheck buying two pairs.

Over coffee afterward, she goes a bit starry-eyed over a happy couple sitting together nearby. Yul notices the mark on her finger where she used to wear a ring, but he assumes it was a couple ring, and he says that people date and break up all the time as if it’s nothing. But Jung-ae says sadly that there’s nobody that isn’t affected by a breakup.

Which brings us to Yoon-yi, sobbing at the top of her lungs to Bo-na and Kyung-rye over Chi-won’s decision to move out. A true friend, Kyung-rye totally takes her side, while Bo-na sees an opportunity to learn more about Chi-won and asks why Yoon-yi thinks he fainted the other day.

Yoon-yi just sobs not to bring it up, because it breaks her heart. Kyung-rye asks why she’s crying so hard, but she says she just doesn’t want him to leave. It occurs to Kyung-rye that Yoon-yi likes Chi-won, making her recite her rules about not falling for her boss, but Bo-na mutters that she seems to have broken that rule.

Yoon-yi is thoroughly drunk by the time she gets home, and she drags herself up the stairs to confront Chi-won. He’s not home, so she flops onto the landing slurring that she’s not returning his deposit, hee.

Chi-won arrives later to find her still there, and she asks what it is about her that’s so uncomfortable. He says the whole thing is uncomfortable, but she asks him not to move out, knowing the house is special to him. She slumps over and falls back to sleep as he says that it’s not because of her, but because of him, and she mutters a tiny, sad, “Don’t go. Please don’t go.”

He carries her downstairs and tucks her into bed. Before he goes, he turns back to switch on a lamp, knowing Yoon-yi is scared of the dark. Her mother calls the next morning to remind her of her blind date tonight. Yoon-yi mumbles confirmation and drops the phone, barely conscious.

On his way to work, Chi-won snags the last yogurt drink right out from under Chang-soo, then shuts the elevator doors in his face. Heh, he’s so immature. He notices that Yoon-yi isn’t at her desk and all of his pencils are dull, and he frowns when Team Leader Gong informs him that she called in sick.

Yoon-yi lies in bed all day, unaware of her friends’ attempts to reach her. Chang-soo even starts to leave her a message offering to bring her favorite sick food after work, but Chi-won shoulder-checks him and makes him drop the call, ha.

During a meeting, Chi-won rips Chang-soo’s video to shreds and tells him to completely redo it. He starts several texts to Yoon-yi but ends up erasing them, and a quick flashback shows that he found her phone on his landing after he tucked her in bed. Chang-soo had called, and Chi-won had listened incredulously as he reminded Yoon-yi that they dated for over five years.

Giving up on texting her, Chi-won makes clumsy attempts at the tasks she usually does, like watering the cacti and sharpening his pencils. At the same time, Yoon-yi drags herself out of bed to listlessly prepare for her blind date.

Kyung-rye is surprised to find Tae-yi, Yoon-yi’s little brother, sitting in her cafe. He says he’s thinking of asking Chi-won for a job, and she snaps that Yoon-yi is sick because of that jerk. Surprised, Tae-yi asks about Yoon-yi’s blind date, then runs off before Kyung-rye can get anything else out of him.

He catches up to Chi-won in the lobby, and Chi-won immediately nails him for tattling on him to his mother. Tae-yi swears that he doesn’t think divorce is a big deal like his mom does, and he tells Chi-won that their mom gave Yoon-yi an ultimatum — to kick out Chi-won, or go on a blind date.

He says the date is tonight, and when Chi-won asks why he’s telling him this, Tae-yi hands over his resume hopefully. Chi-won glances at it, hands it back, and walks away. HA.

 

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A song and a dance

 

Chi-won goes to Yul, who figures out that he feels uncomfortable without Yoon-yi. Yul does a hilarious song and dance about a guy who acts like he doesn’t like a girl — excuse me, I have to go watch that five more times.

Chi-won sits in his office, obsessing about Yoon-yi. After a while he gets a text from her, apologizing for making him uncomfortable and telling him to do what he wants. He looks at the coffee mug she made that says he can get anything he wants…. then he jumps up, throws on his coat, and storms out of the office. YES, go get her!

He finds Yoon-yi on her blind date, still looking pale and sick. Without a word he grabs her arm, pulls her up, and leads her out of the restaurant. He doesn’t let go until they’re alone, and he asks angrily why she’s on this blind date when he said he’d move out.

Instead of answering, Yoon-yi asks Chi-won why he came here. Looking a little confused, he says, “I couldn’t see you, so I was nervous. You said you were sick so I was worried. You told me to do what I want to do.”

And then, to both of their surprise, he leans down and kisses her.

 

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A surprise kiss

 

COMMENTS

Okay let’s be honest — that kiss was awkward as hell. I don’t know if it was awkward as a purposeful directing decision, or a weird editing choice, but both Chi-won and Yoon-yi looked uncomfortable, and I find any kiss where the participants freeze in place, bodies as far apart as possible, to be cringe-worthy. However, I’m thrilled that it finally happened, because I was starting to get scared that if these two didn’t figure out soon why there’s so much tension between them, Yul was going to end up spelling it out publicly in traditional interpretive dance.

Chi-won has frequently shown himself to be a defender of those too weak or trapped to defend themselves, such as women and corporate employees. He’s stood up for Yoon-yi several times, though it’s always been a general sort of “it’s not right to treat people that way” defense, rather than a defense of her in particular. But something changed when he witnessed Director Bong verbally abusing her, and he realized that he’d been doing the exact same thing to her by making negative assumptions and not treating her as a person worthy of respect.

Since then, Chi-won’s championing feels more like he’s sticking up for Yoon-yi because of who she is personally, such as when he crashed the noraebang party and made a point to get Yoon-yi out of there. There were other women there, as well as other members of his team, but Chi-won was only angry at the way Yoon-yi was being treated. He’s starting to grow by leaps and bounds, and to see people as individuals and not just obstacles to his carefully curated life of isolation.

Yul, by the way, is turning out to possess a lot more insight and depth than it appears on the surface. He has such a bright personality and cheerful outlook, which turns out to hide a very bleak upbringing. Knowing that he grew up without his mother, and essentially without his father either, makes his immaturity seem less of an annoying character flaw and more like a defense mechanism against what must be crushing loneliness. Yul isn’t immature because he’s spoiled, as I originally thought, but because he’s been literally left to his own devices his whole life. And yet, he has this insightful way of getting right to the heart of an issue, such as when he pointed out to Chi-won that he was unfairly judging Yoon-yi. He’s a great judge of character, and I’d love to see what kind of man he becomes once he settles into himself.

It occurs to me that Chi-won and Yul are actually very alike in a lot of ways, both of them having grown up alone with no families. But it’s fascinating how they ended up such polar opposites, with Yul hungry for any kind of affection or friendship to the point that he chases people off, while Chi-won actively shuns closeness with anyone for any reason. Of course, Chi-won has very good reason for his self-isolation, as I’ve said before, and I wonder how he would have turned out if he hadn’t lost his family in such dreadfully traumatic ways. But I was glad that Yul reminded him that he has memories of them, and that he was loved, which is more than Yul himself can say. If Chi-won can stop thinking of his family only in terms of how they died, and learn to remember them for the way they lived and loved him and each other, that could go a long way towards healing his emotional scars.

 
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