I like Man of Honor. Two episodes in, I really really like it. I like the two leads, both the actors and their characters, that it keeps me interested in the story. With the set-up portion done, already I’m chafing at the bit to watch more. This drama is so eye-catching, the colors vivid and the scenes filmed with an eager sureness that feels confident and fluid.
If the story was not anchored using a by-the-books-makjang tale of orphaned woe and inter-generational pot of issues, I’d recommend this drama in a heartbeat. But somehow I feel like MoH is doing something new with the same old ingredients, throwing in genuine fantasy elements that make it feel slightly surreal at times.
A few makjany dramas of yore are some of my guiltiest pleasures, and I have a feeling MoH might join that select club. It’s great for a rainy day watch when you just want to have some empty calorie tasty treat. As for me, recapping this drama is almost as fun as watching it.
Episode 2 recap:
Episode 2 starts off by filling in some more gaps from the previous episode. Turns out little Jae In wasn’t tossed out of the car, and instead finds herself dangling upside down secured by her seat belt in the overturned vehicle. She calls out for her mom and dad, the former in a coma and the latter perished in watery death. Jae In then sees a light shining in the distance. Hhhmmm, did someone take Jae In out of the car and move her far away from the accident scene on purpose? More mysteries on our hands.
Jae In is found and taken to the police station, where she just keeps shaking her head at the nice police officer’s questions. The cops think she’s likely in a shock from losing her parents. Young Kwang’s dad retrieves her and then deposits her at the orphanage, all in exchange for some cash and his everlasting conscience. Young Kwang’s dad reminds her that her name is Yoon Jae In and she must never forget it.
In Woo’s dad has taken over the company and goes to sit in the Chairman’s office, which is now his. He’s given a box that Jae In’s dad had in his suit jacket when he died, inside is a necklace shaped like a elaborate key. He remembers being with Jae In’s dad when he bought the necklace as a birthday present for his daughter. When asked why buy something in the shape of a key, Jae In’s dad explains that it symbolizes Jae In opening the doors of her happiness. Jae In’s dad holds the key necklace and prays.
In Woo’s dad’s heart is hardened now, and he throws the necklace away in the trash, smirking that it’s all too bad that Jae In’s dad’s wish will never come true now. Jae In sits at the orphanage and looks at her baseball and repeats her name. The other kids try to engage her but she’s dismissive. They think Jae In was brought to the orphanage by her own dad and abandoned so she’s a pathetic girl. Jae In says her dad reminded her of her name, so she’s not really abandoned. She will go home one day. She walks away and vows that she will go home one day.
In Woo’s dad tells In Woo that Jae In won’t be coming home anymore. When In Woo asks if she died, his dad says he doesn’t know and then tells In Woo to stop asking so many questions. We hear the voice of Jae In’s dad, praying to God to please keep his daughter safe, not to let her get sick, not to shed tears, to learn to forgive and love, and have the ability to tell what is true love. This is the prayer Jae In’s dad made when he bought the necklace.
Later that night, the janitor comes by and empties the trash outside in the dumpster. We see a dirty hand rummage through the dumpster and pick up some discarded food items. Suddenly the person sees the necklace laying there and picks it up. We hear Jae In’s dad make one final wish – that Jae In will find her own happiness.
On a bright Summer day seventeen years later, adult Jae In happily rides her bicycle to work, carrying flowers in her basket. If this is not THE snapshot of a Candy heroine, I don’t know what is. But I like her very much, she’s got a good head on her shoulders.
Jae In arrives at the hospital and promptly gets to work cleaning the patient rooms. Her patients clearly adore her, watching her work efficiently and timing her, marveling at how quickly she does everything. Jae In preens a little at the compliments. When asked if it’s true she’s not working tomorrow, Jae In confirms that she needs to go to Seoul to take the nurses exam. Right now she is a mid-level nurse, but if she passes will be a high-level nurse. Her patients wish her well and even give her something to eat to help her pass.
As Jae In is leaving the room, a very pissed off Head Nurse walks in and glares at Jae In, while holding a bucket of flowers. She looks around the room and notices every bedside has a fresh vase of flowers. Jae In is brought into the nurses office and yelled at for bringing flowers in, taking her patients out for walks, ordering pizza for them. They are all elderly and what she does puts them at risk. Jae In says she wants to treat them like family. Head Nurse yells at her, saying she is clearly looking for a family since she has none.
Jae In is told to spend tonight to organize the nurse station. Jae In says she’s taking the nurse exam in Seoul tomorrow and she needs to take the night bus there. Head Nurse is a total beeyotch and tells her to do her job. Another nurse offers to help Jae In do it, but she smiles and doesn’t want to bother them. She says she has a few hours left and can get it done.
Jae In is frantically organizing files and cleaning everywhere, telling herself she can do it. In Woo and Young Kwang are wheeled into the hospital. As Jae In is cleaning, she hears someone calling for someone. She walks over and sees Young Kwang, recognizing him as the baseball play she is a fan of. As Jae In is helping prop Young Kwang up, he suddenly pukes on her and then faints.
Jae In checks his dilated eyes and runs into the ER to tell the doctor there is a patient in dire need of immediate medical assistance. Head Nurse tries to shoo Jae In away, but she yells out that another ballplayer hit his head during the game and appears to be in a semi-coma. The doctor goes to see him and says Young Kwang needs to go to the OR immediately.
Doctor confirms In Woo is not serious, whereas Young Kwang needs immediate attention. The doctor tells Jae In she did the right thing, otherwise it’ll be too late. As Young Kwang is wheeled into the OR, his hand brushes Jae In’s and she senses something, holding her hand because of the touch.
Jae In runs off to catch her bus but the Head Nurse stops her to warn her that there are rules in the hospital that she needs to follow. Jae In says Young Kwang needed immediate medical attention, but Head Nurse doesn’t want to hear it. Jae In refuses to back down, saying that when a patient is critical, no matter the situation, she will do her nurse’s duty. She considers that every patient could be her family member, so the patient is all she cares about. When Head Nurse, who has been incorrectly calling Jae In’s name, continues to do so, Jae In tells her that her name is Yoon Jae In and not to call it wrong again.
Jae In changes to go catch her bus. She looks at pictures taped to her locker door of her posing happily with the sisters of the orphanage. She promises the sisters that she will do well at the exam and not let them down. As she is waiting for the bus, she suddenly remembers Young Kwang asking her what her name is? Young Kwang is in surgery and his vitals keep dropping, but Young Kwang thinks to himself….where did he hear her name before.
Young Kwang’s dad gets a call at his cold noodle restaurant that causes him to hurry out. He doesn’t tell his wife the truth, causing her to wonder what is going on. At the hospital, the doctor says the surgery was a success because someone at the hospital donated blood when there wasn’t enough. Young Kwang will need two months to recover now, and since he cracked three ribs, he cannot do any strenuous activity during that time.
Coach is worried since the team has given Young Kwang only two months to win a championship or award or else he has to retire from the team. This order came from above and Coach doesn’t like it but he has no choice.
Young Kwang’s dad remembers back to when Young Kwang was young and just starting to play baseball seriously. He’s already opened his noodle restaurant (with the dirty money given to him by In Woo’s dad, no doubt), and Young Kwang comes running in happy to share the news that he hit a home run today. Young Kwang’s dad is thrilled, and Young Kwang promises to buy his dad a house and his own driver when he becomes rich and famous.
Suddenly it’s adult Young Kwang sitting down to eat his dad’s noodles. His dad wishes he could feed Young Kwang meat, but Young Kwang says his dad’s noodles are as fortifying as meat to him. He happily slurps down the noodles and guzzles the soup, saying it’s so delicious it’s like medicinal herb soup.
Young Kwang’s dad begs Coach to let Young Kwang play, bowing down and asking if there is anything that can be done. Coach says the son of the team owner is at this hospital as well, and perhaps Young Kwang’s dad can talk with him. In Woo checks out his broken nose in the mirror and is furious at his injury.
The next day dawns on the hospital and we see Jae In rushing to join her fellow nurses as they make their rounds. Head Nurse hears her running up and turns to glare at her. Jae In politely greets her but is called over to be warned that she will be fired if she is late again. Head Nurse almost calls her by the wrong name but catches herself and calls her Yoon Jae In.
Jae In is given Young Kwang as a patient, and we see that Jae In has a blood transfusion bandage on her left arm. So she gave blood to Young Kwang last night. Hee, love it. Nurse tells her to watch herself in the 24 hours after giving blood and Jae In smiles and says she will be mindful of that.
Young Kwang wake ups in his hospital bed and looks around in confusion. He sees an old watch on the table, which lets him know that his dad had been by to visit him. Young Kwang walks around the hospital adorably calling for his dad. Suddenly he sees his dad walk out of the elevator, carrying a fruit basket and headed in a different direction. Young Kwang follows him.
Young Kwang’s dad enters In Woo’s hospital room, which is littered with giant fruit baskets, making his look really sad in comparison. In Woo tells him to just leave it. When asked if In Woo is okay now, In Woo heard Young Kwang also got injured and is also at this hospital. In fact, Young Kwang is close to retiring from the team these days.
In Woo asks if Young Kwang’s dad is here to beg him to help Young Kwang? In Woo says someone getting kicked out because he doesn’t have any talent, there is nothing In Woo can do to help him. When Young Kwang’s dad asks if In Woo can’t do anything, In Woo asks how much Young Kwang’s dad makes selling noodles every month?
When Young Kwang’s dad says he makes enough to feed the family every month, In Woo tells him to have Young Kwang sell noodles as well rather than do something he can’t succeed at. He tells Young Kwang’s dad to stop coming by to bother him. In Woo does offer to make Young Kwang his driver, and let Young Kwang inherit the same profession his dad used to do. Young Kwang’s dad bows and leaves.
Outside the room, dad runs into son, who has angry tears in his eyes hearing his dad so subservient to In Woo on his behalf. Young Kwang’s dad worries about him, but Young Kwang is furious that his dad would resort to begging In Woo on his behalf. Young Kwang did nothing wrong, so his dad needs to stop bowing down to In Woo.
Young Kwang asks if he’s such a useless son? He wants his dad to believe in him, and never bow his head again, even if they are on the brink of starvation. Young Kwang hands his dad back the crappy watch, telling him not to wear it anymore. When Young Kwang makes money, he’ll buy his dad a new watch. His dad says the watch still works just fine. Dad tells son to rest and call him if Young Kwang needs anything, he’ll come right over.
After his dad leaves, Young Kwang is furious and barges into In Woo’s hospital room. Jae In goes to check on Young Kwang only to find his bed empty. She hears other nurses running. Young Kwang trashes In Woo’s room looking for his dad’s fruit basket. When Young Kwang finds the correct fruit basket, he moves to leave but doubles over in pain.
In Woo tells Young Kwang to clean up the room, but Young Kwang tells In Woo to apologize to his dad first. If In Woo apologizes, then Young Kwang will clean up the room. The two men raise their fists to each other, but Jae In tries to restrain them. Both men yell at her to shut up and back off.
Young Kwang says In Woo relies on his family connections. In Woo calls Young Kwang useless, and says it’s his lot in life to be born into a driver’s family. Young Kwang says he won’t change his family for a chaebol’s family. Young Kwang warns In Woo that if he is rude to Young Kwang’s dad again, he won’t just suffer a broken nose.
Jae In finally gets fed up and tosses a bucket of water of the about-to-fight guys, telling them to move the fight outside the hospital. They guys demand to know who does she think she is? Jae In announces that she is just Yoon Jae In, a nurse at the hospital. Both guys look wide-eyed, like her name rings a bell with them.
In Woo’s dad, now the Chairman, arrives at the hospital to visit his sonny boy. As In Woo’s dad walks into the hospital, and we see the same beggar from years ago who picked up Jae In’s key necklace walk in behind him.
Young Kwang rushes back to his room and pack his things. Jae In tries to restrain him, saying she didn’t really mean for him to leave the hospital, and he doesn’t have permission to do so. Young Kwang says he doesn’t need permission and shoves Jae In out of the way to grab his things. She won’t let him leave, saying people worked to save his life yesterday and she can’t let him risk his life.
Jae In starts lighting into Young Kwang for being so impatient, which is the reason why his ballplaying sucks now. It’s been seven years since he last played, and perhaps even the famous home run he hit was just a lucky ball. The two of them start glaring daggers at each other, and OMG is the tension awesome. Yay for more yelling between Young Kwang and Jae In.
Jae In grabs her thermometer and takes Young Kwang’s temperature, and then his blood pressure. She says he’s fine and tells him to lay here for three hours and then she’ll be back. As she walks away he yells at her again, and she turns and screams at him to stop yelling at her. Young Kwang finally looks slightly chastened at his bad attitude. Jae In also realizes she lost her temper at a patient, so she summons her normal cheery smile and bids him to rest.
Jae In walks outside and wonders why she missed her test for this guy. Jae In is called to go meet the Head Nurse, but as she’s moves to leave, she suddenly hears the twinkle of a bell. In the flashback, we see that the beggar wears a set of bells on his waist. In Woo sits down and then repeats Jae In’s name. Young Kwang sits down and wonders why her name sounds so familiar. Young Kwang’s dad sits outside the hospital and looks down at his old watch.
In Woo’s dad and his posse get into the elevator. Before the door closes, the beggar walks in. In Woo’s dad’s lackey asks him to take another elevator, but the beggar refuses, thinking this elevator is for patients and he’s a patient. Suddenly the beggar looks at In Woo’s dad and says – you look like a tiger but inside you are a kitten, you may have gotten rid of the lion and temporary taken his place, but your sly fox ways cannot be hidden for long, for how much longer can you enjoy the riches and wealth you have stolen?
In Woo’s dad looks pissed and shoots his subordinate a look, who moves to cover the CCTV and then punches the old man in the head. When the elevator opens, Jae In rushes in only to bump into In Woo’s dad, who is coming out. We hear the beggar’s voiceover that a person’s fate may be altered, but destiny cannot be avoided. In Woo’s dad stares at Jae In and then gives her a glare. Jae In apologizes profusely.
As the elevator closes, Jae In opens it only to find the poor beggar on the ground all beat up. In Woo wonders if the nurse Jae In might be THAT Jae In? Suddenly his dad walks in and In Woo looks a bit afraid. I’d feel sorry for In Woo if he isn’t such a dick most of the time. In Woo’s dad almost slips on a banana peel and he looks around at the trashed room before giving In Woo a glare.
Jae In takes the beggar to get checked out by the doctor. He smells so bad the doctor and the other nurse almost retch. Afterwards, Jae In gives him money for food and medicine, and tells him she paid his medical bill. He wonders if she is pitying him? Jae In says she’s just concerned about him. The beggar says Jae In doesn’t have time to worry about him right now, which reminds Jae In that Head Nurse is still waiting to see her.
Young Kwang walks around the hospital and runs into Head Nurse chewing out Jae In, who explains she was helping an injured old man. Head Nurse says Jae In missing the exam is her fate. She can’t even be a good assistant nurse, how can she expect to be a bedside nurse. Young Kwang peers into the room for Jae In, only to have the girl bump into him with her cart on her way out.
Young Kwang is diagnoses with four rib fractures and is told that he now needs about three months of recuperation. Young Kwang turns to shoot daggers at Jae In. Young Kwang shuffles back to his room while Jae In follows behind him with a wheelchair asking him to sit down. He turns to glare at her, and she apologizes but she really didn’t know he was standing right there.
Young Kwang says that Jae In is just an assistant nurse, how dare she act like she knows what she is doing. Jae In says she was trained as a nurse and knows what her duties are. She asks Young Kwang how he feels to be demoted to the minor leagues? Young Kwang says Jae In is even looked down on by her Head Nurse, clearly she’s not very capable so why is she so arrogant in front of him.
Young Kwang asks why she keeps interfering in his life. What does she know about him? What has she done for him? Did she perform the surgery to save his life? Who does she think she is! Jae In says she’s just his fan. She’s been his fan since his glory days. Young Kwang thinks back to his first meeting with Jae In when she happily told him that she was his fan. Jae In apologizes for upsetting Young Kwang and says she’ll get him a new nurse. Young Kwang looks chastened about the way he just treated Jae In, but she leaves with a bow before he can apologize.
Jae In leaves work and peels off her blood transfusion bandaid. The beggar offers Jae In some yakult to drink, which be bought using the money she gave him after he got some food and medicine. They sit outside and he asks why she looks so down? She says that life’s challenges make her feel tired. He suggests they play a game, a wishing game. Jae In says he’s not a fairy, he can’t grant wishes. He tells her to try him.
Jae In says she has three wishes. Her first wish is to reunite with her family. We see Young Kwang’s dad go home to his welcoming family. Her second wish is to become a capable nurse like Nightingale. We see Young Kwang tossing in his hospital bed. And her third wish, which she is embarrassed to say, is to meet a genuine person, marry him and have a happy family. These are her three wishes.
The beggar says he understands now, and tells Jae In to hold out her hand. He takes out the key necklace Jae In’s dad left for her and puts it in her hand. Jae In’s hand closes over the necklace and she starts to tear up. The beggar says there is nothing stronger in this world than a parent’s wish for their child. From now on, this necklace is hers, and will help her make the three wishes come true.
The beggar says the first thing Jae In needs to do is see her family again. Jae In looks at the necklace and suddenly she hears someone calling her name. It’s a sister from the orphanage, who asks what Jae In is doing out here all by herself. Jae In looks around and the beggar is gone.
Another nurse comes to take Young Kwang’s vitals and reveals to him that Jae In gave him blood during his surgery. We see Jae In rushing to leave the hospital to take the night bus to Seoul for her nurse exam. Suddenly she hears a request for RH O-blood over the loudspeaker. Jae In checks her watch, and then decides to donate blood.
We see Jae In giving blood. She says it’s fine because she can take the first bus tomorrow morning. But Jae In falls asleep after giving blood. When Jae In wakes up, it’s already too late for her to get to Seoul to take the test. Young Kwang is told about Jae In missing the test, and how she has no family and got here all by herself. All she needed was to pass this final test.
Young Kwang looks stricken that Jae In missed the test she had been preparing years for because of him. Young Kwang runs around the hospital looking for her, thinking back to how he yelled at her earlier today.
The sister from the orphanage tells Jae In that the sister director recently passed away, and asked that these be given to Jae In. It’s a box containing letters sent to Jae In from the man they think is Jae In’s dad (i.e. Young Kwang’s dad). Jae In looks at her key necklace and takes the box of letters over. She opens it, and suddenly there is a clap of thunder over the skies of Seoul.
Jae In looks at the unopened letters inside the box and starts to cry. She sees that each letter has a name and a return address. She smiles as she thinks she has found her father. We see Young Kwang still looking for her at the hospital.
Thoughts of Mine:
What I said in this last recap about how this drama isn’t mean to be realistic, this episode upped the fantasy quotient by introducing the magical old beggar. ROFL, what a plot driver, both silly yet somehow kinda charming. He’s like the fairy godbeggar to Jae In’s Cinderella/Orphan Annie. Clearly he’s no ordinary dirty old guy, but the fate’s way of returning Jae In to her rightful place in life and making her dreams come true. I’m cool with that, and I especially loved how the fairy beggar told off In Woo’s dad in the elevator and called him on every evil thing he did as an usurper.
Call me easy to please, but I lovelovelove Jae In and Young Kwang’s characters, and together they make me go all schmoopy for them. I really connect with Young Kwang’s frustration in his own limitations and shortcomings. Young Kwang doesn’t blame anyone else for his inability to be a better ballplayer, and he lashes out because he can’t seem to turn things around in his life. I like how he refuses to bow down to anyone, especially In Woo, and how he fights for the sake of his dad’s pride. PIE plays Young Kwang with such conviction that I see his pride and frustration in the depths of his eyes and the way he squares his shoulder.
Jae In is really such a likeable heroine, with a sunny personality but is not afraid of confrontation when it comes to doing the right thing. This is the first Park Min Young character I have ever liked in any drama of hers. Yes, I disliked both her character and performances in Sungkyunkwan Scandal and City Hunter. While Jae In has some resemblance to the other two characters, but for once she feels real to me, with her dreams and worries something I actually care about. The drama continues to be so pretty to watch, and the music has calmed down a lot and I’m really going with the flow now.
To watch MoH, you have to first accept the basic conceit of the drama, which is that it’s a fairytale with the essential fairytale elements of coincidence, happenstance, and tragedy all rolled into one. Once you start with that premise, then you can actually sit back and enjoy the ride. I like how the this drama is surprisingly low on the screeching and the wailing, and how all the characters are rather restrained and low key. I hope it stays this way, so that even if the story is littered with plot twists and turns, I can enjoy spending time watching how everything unfolds and seeing Young Kwang and Jae In have their fairytale love story happy ending. Together they warm my heart and make me smile.