There are many threads running through Man of Honor, but the drama manages to keep it’s steady rhythm and clear focus. It doesn’t aim to be realistic, deep, or thought-provoking, but it does what it set out to do confidently and that’s a real pleasure to see. I reckon Jae In and Young Kwang are going to encounter an obstacle in each episode that they will bridge, more developments will happen to pull Jae In closer to revealing her identity to everyone, and the emotional developments between the OTP continues to take baby steps towards each other.
While not much happened in this episode, I’m interested enough to keep me patient for what appears to be some big reveals coming up. I finally connected with In Woo as a conflicted character and felt his connection with Jae In increasing. Sadly for poor abused rich boy, the Young Kwang-Jae In ship pretty much set sail 9 episodes ago, even if they are still wading in the fauxcest waters for the interim period. It’s okay, I think In Woo needs a friend more than a girlfriend.
Episode 10 recap:
Going back to the end of the meeting where the applicants are given their task – sell their item to one of the four members of Team Young Do to get the combination for their locker – Young Kwang walks over to the locker with his name of it and stares. Young Do peeks at him before walking away. Hong Joo walks up to Young Kwang and notes that his parka is a woman’s style. She flirts openly with Young Kwang, letting him know that if he treats her well, she’ll buy it from him.
Hong Joo backs Young Kwang up against the wall and suggests they start with dinner and drinks tonight and discuss the past. Young Kwang doesn’t think they knew each other well enough in the past to have anything to talk about. Hong Joo presses up against him and says he was her first kiss, they have lots to talk about. Young Kwang says it was just an accident and nothing to make a big deal about.
Hong Joo leans in to kiss Young Kwang, suggesting they have another such accident again. Young Kwang presses his finger against her lips and pushes her away from him. He won’t sell his item to her, so she can go bother someone else. As he turns to leave, he notices Jae In watching from the door. He hurries out pretending to look for the bathroom.
Jae In walks in and asks Hong Joo if she’ll buy her item if she treated her well? Jae In hands Hong Joo a drink, but Hong Joo declines. She asks Jae In what the hiking boots are made of and what characteristics it has? Jae In knows none of that. Hong Joo schools Jae In to at least do research before trying to sell her own product. Hong Joo says the offer she made to Young Kwang doesn’t extend to Jae In. When Hong Joo wonders about Jae In’s relationship to Young Kwang, Jae In can only laugh and explain they merely share the same blood type. That is the extent of their relationship.
In Woo stops Young Kwang to discuss Jae In. In Woo asks Young Kwang to stop Jae In from coming back to Geodae and convince her to quit the application process. Young Kwang reminds In Woo that it was In Woo who asked Jae In to apply in the first place. Now he wants Jae In to quit without any explanation. Is he just screwing with Jae In?
Young Kwang suddenly asks In Woo if he has other intentions towards “his” Jae In (wuri Jae In is what Young Kwang says, which can mean Jae In belongs to his family). In Woo doesn’t answer, but asks Young Kwang what he would do if that was true? Can Young Kwang stop Jae In from coming.
Jae In walks up looking for the file room to do research on the hiking boots, and finds the door to a storage room opening for her even though it was locked when she first tried the handle. Jae In tentatively peeks inside only to see In Chul walking out of the storage room. She explains that she was coming here to do research on her sale product. In Chul says the file room is open only to permanent employees since it contains company proprietary information. In Chul hands Jae In his name badge so she can get the information, reminding her to return it to him when she’s done.
In Chul watches Jae In walks away with a creepy fake smile pasted on his face, and then Kyung Joo walks out of the storage room behind him. She notices his smile at the departing Jae In, and asks if it’s okay to let Jae In have access around the company? In Chul says he has his plan, so Kyung Joo needn’t worry.
In Chul reminds Kyung Joo to get him In Woo’s dad’s health records by tomorrow. Kyung Joo promises, but when she asks about dinner, In Chul just blows her off. He reminds her to keep their distance at work. Okay, looks like In Chul is just using Kyung Joo, who takes one more look at the framed portrait of Jae In’s dad before closing the door to the room.
Young Kwang runs around looking for Jae In. He thinks back to In Woo claiming to have feelings for Jae In. Young Kwang demands to know why In Woo thinks he has a right to like Jae In? In Woo wants Young Kwang to keep Jae In away from him then. Young Kwang tells In Woo that neither of them can dictate whether Jae In wants to continue with the application or show up at the company.
In Woo asks if Young Kwang is fine with In Woo messing around with Jae In then? Young Kwang says Jae In isn’t someone In Woo can mess around with. She will never get hurt because of a man like In Woo. In Woo asks if Young Kwang is really this certain about Jae In? In Woo says fine, this conversation is over, and from now on whatever happens between In Woo and Jae In, Young Kwang should butt out.
Young Kwang calls Jae In, who has her shoes on the table and is doing research. She answers the call but In Woo takes the phone away from her. He tells Young Kwang that Jae In is busy and hangs up the phone, then turning it off. Young Kwang rushes to the file room and sees In Woo dragging Jae In out. In Woo re-hires Jae In but tells her to quit this application process and leave with him.
Jae In flat out says no and tells him to let go of her. She is not someone he can summon to and fro whenever he wants. In Woo asks if she needs money? Jae In does need money, but her pride is priceless. If In Woo really needs her, he needs to apologize for hurting her before she will go back with him. Young Kwang watches Jae In stand up for herself to In Woo and doesn’t interject.
When In Woo moves to follow Jae In, Young Kwang tells him to halt. He tells In Woo only to go after Jae In when he sincerely wants to apologize. He also warns In Woo not to have any other feelings for Jae In. Once Jae In returns to the file room, she notices her hiking shoes are gone. No one knows where it went and Jae In frantically looks for them. We see the shoes have been tossed in the trash and taken out.
Jae In asks Hong Joo what would happen if the product is lost? Hong Joo says the person would be eliminated since they won’t have a product to sell. Jae In dejectedly walks out of the office and asks herself what she can do.
Young Kwang’s mom takes delivery of supplies and is told the price of flour is going up next week. Mom pays part of the cost but notes that she will need to find another way to earn money just to pay for supplies. Jin Joo arrives at the restaurant to see her mom doing bills and counting money. Jin Joo tries to wheedle some money from her mom but is told there is no money.
Jin Joo wants some plastic surgery so she can be an actress. Mom pinches Jin Joo and tells her to be grateful with her god given features. Jin Joo rages that Mom paid for Kyung Joo’s college and Young Kwang’s baseball career but won’t pay for her surgery. Grandma asks for money to go to the market to buy vegetables and chili paste. Mom is frustrated and shoos everyone away.
Jae In runs around the company looking for her missing hiking boots. Mom goes to the market and bargains for all the food. Mom ends up taking old discarded cabbage leaves the veggie seller has thrown away. Jae In rummages through the trash for her missing shoes. As Mom walks home, she sees a flyer looking for people to work at a nightclub kitchen.
Jae In comes home just as Mom is about to rip off the phone number. Jae In offers to carry the groceries, but both notice that each other is dirty and disheveled.
At the hospital, Jae In’s mom asks the prosecutor to check and see if Young Kwang’s mom might know something. Perhaps her husband revealed something to her. The prosecutor doesn’t think the tight-lipped Young Kwang’s dad might have said anything, but does consider the possibility.
Jae In tells Young Kwang that she lost her hiking boots. She knows she wasn’t careful, but there is nothing she can do anymore. She tells Young Kwang to do his best, especially in front of Cha Hong Joo. Wasn’t Hong Joo his first kiss back in high school? Young Kwang quickly tries to explain that she’s mistaken, it’s not a first kiss since it was one-sided. Jae In says it was a kiss then.
Young Kwang tries to explain Hong Joo back in high school wasn’t a girl anyone wanted to have a first kiss with. Jae In notes that she’s quite pretty now though. Jae In wants Young Kwang to work twice as hard and include her effort in it. She lethargically tells him to keep going. As she moves to leave, Young Kwang grabs her and asks if she wants to give up this easily? Young Kwang suggests they go shopping, perhaps they can buy one on the market. Jae In is excited. Young Kwang repeats again that the Hong Joo kiss was an accident.
Mom sits and does the bills sighing at how tight the family finances are. She looks at her husband and says he got the easy way out. She thinks back to the job posting from earlier. Jae In and Young Kwang try to sneak out later that night. We see Mom following suit as she sneaks out as well after them. She grabs the job ad and calls the number.
Jae In and Young Kwang hit outdoor goods stores and none of them have it. Turns out the product hasn’t been released on the market yet. Jae In is visibly disappointed. Their visit to the store is noted by a team member and reported to Young Do that Jae In lost her hiking boots.
In Woo sits in his apartment and looks at his pair of hiking boots, and then he looks over and Jae In’s boots are also there. Oooooh, so he’s the boot stealer. Turns out not quite that, because In Woo happened to be riding the elevator with the cleaning lady who has Jae In’s boots in her trash bin. In Woo takes the boots and hides them.
In Woo sits back and it’s his turn to wonder “Kim Young Kwang, perhaps it’s you who has other intentions (towards Jae In)?”
Young Kwang suggests to Jae In to go eat some late night snacks. Suddenly Jae In sees Mom entering a noraebang. She quickly redirects Young Kwang’s attention so he doesn’t see her. When Young Kwang moves to turn his head, Jae In physically grabs his face with her hands to keep his face turned towards her. She pretends to be teasing him while he looks confused.
Jae In watches as Mom enters the noraebang. She’s still holding Young Kwang’s face in her hands (it’s all smushed he’s so cute), and he asks what she wants to do. Jae In says noraebang, and they go to a noraebang. They sit there quietly, with Young Kwang turning to smile at her and asking her what she wants to sing. Jae In excuses herself to go to the bathroom, leaving Young Kwang wondering why she wanted to go to a noraebang.
Jae In sneaks around looking for Mom. She finally sees Mom in the kitchen as she prepares food to earn money. Jae In looks sadly at how hard Mom is working. When Mom goes to deliver fruit, she comes face-to-face with Jae In. When Mom delivers the fruit, she’s accosted by a drunk guest who insists she drink. Jae In runs into the room to help Mom.
When the drunkard pushes Jae In down, Mom gets pissed and starts beating on the douchebag, including grabbing his wig off his head. The two start running out of the noraebang as the men chase them.
Mom grabs Jae In’s hand as they successfully escape. Leaving Young Kwang singing his head off in the noraebang by himself. LOL.
Once the coast is clear, Mom and Jae In catch their breaths. Mom starts laughing at the absurdity of the situation, especially that guy being a baldy and wearing a wig. Jae In apologizes for escalating the situation, but Mom says there is nothing embarrassing about working hard to earn money. She simply couldn’t believe her husband would cheat on her and have a kid with someone else.
Mom tells Jae In they need to go home, but makes Jae In promise to keep today a secret between them, otherwise Mom will kick Jae In out and sew her lips shut. Jae In promises, and then realizes she left Young Kwang at the noraebang. Young Kwang is at the noraebang wondering where the heck Jae In went.
The next day, Jae In goes to apologize to Young Kwang for forgetting him at the noraebang. Jae In lies that she met someone she knew so she forgot. Young Kwang wonders who Jae In could possibly know in Seoul. He listens to her excuse and says he sees right through it. When she lies her face turns all red. She simply keeps apologizing, asking what she can do so he will forgive her.
Young Kwang asks her to call him “oppa” just once, since she keeps calling him player Kim Young Kwang this entire time. Jae In is embarrassed to say it, so Young Kwang pretends to walk away. Jae In quickly stops him and says she’ll call him oppa. Young Kwang wants her to say it right now, so Jae In only laughs awkwardly and backs away.
Young Kwang lowers his ear to her lips and says he can’t hear it. He keeps saying he can’t hear it and smiling for Jae In to call him oppa. When Mom calls them down to eat, Young Kwang puts his arm out to corner her. He stares at her for a moment and tells her that he’ll let it go this time and have her owe him one “oppa” which he will collect later. OMG, this scene just made me awwww AND made my knees weak. The way Young Kwang looks at Jae In is just ridiculously hot.
Young Kwang leaves Jae In rather out of breath just standing there, but then pops back to ask if she’s not planning to come down to eat? Jae In quickly says she’s going and runs down. Young Kwang smiles to see her scurrying away. The family sits down to eat. Grandma wonders who went out late last night. Young Kwang takes responsibility.
When Jae In moves to grab a piece of food, Jin Joo purposely grabs the same piece. Mom pushes Jin Joo’s chopstick away and lets Jae In have the piece. Jae In smiles like a loon while everyone watches in amazement.
Later Grandma asks what happened between Mom and Jae In, which Mom continues to keep mum about. They walk to the restaurant to see the tables and windows are all sparkling and clean. Turns out Jae In cleaned everything already this morning. Mom is pleased but pretends otherwise in front of Grandma.
As Jae In walks away from the restaurant, she hears the landlord offering the store to another renter. Jae In tells the landlord they will pay the rent and not give up this store. She tells the landlord that she is the daughter of the store owner. As Jae In walks away, the prosecutor drives up to the restaurant.
In Woo wakes up when his mom calls him asking to have lunch today. Jae In shows up at the company and runs into Young Do. He asks what she’s doing, and she makes the excuse that she’s planning her strategy by herself. Young Do calls his subordinate and reminds him not to reveal to anyone else that Jae In lost her hiking boots. He also tells him something else we don’t hear. Young Do wonders how Jae In plans to sell something she doesn’t have.
Young Kwang talks with his gangster lackey, both agreeing Hong Joo isn’t the right candidate. They decide to work on someone else, someone easy to talk to. Gangster suggests approaching a seemingly difficult Dae Sung, who may be prickly on the outside but secretly easy on in the inside. Turns out that gangster purposely misdirected Young Kwang since its survival of the fittest out here.
Dae Sung sits down to eat and Young Kwang invites himself to dine at the same table. Dae Sung says he prefers to eat by himself, and Young Kwang jokes that Dae Sung must’ve been ostracized. When Young Kwang helps himself to a piece of Dae Sung’s food, he goes insane since he’s OCD. It goes from bad to worse when Young Kwang deposits some of his food on Dae Sung’s plate. As Young Kwang shovels food into his mouth, he starts chocking and spits out his food on Dae Sung. Poor Dae Sung is completely traumatized. He vows to himself that he will eliminate Kim Young Kwang if it’s the last thing he does.
As Young Kwang is racing to catch Dae Sung, he runs into In Woo’s dad. Evil daddy stops Young Kwang and wonders why he looks so familiar. Young Kwang says he’s not an employee but he’s applying for a job. In Woo’s dad realizes he is Kim Young Kwang, and then starts screaming at him, asking why he’s still hanging around the company. Kyung Joo looks absolutely freaked out by this since she’s standing right there.
In Woo arrives at the company and sees Jae In sitting off to the side looking frustrated. He tells her to just call it quits. Jae In wants to ignore him, but has to ask why he’s treating her this way. She has done nothing to him, so is it because she is her father’s daughter. In Woo lies that it’s because she’s the daughter of a poor driver and he doesn’t want her around. Plus she’s the sister of the useless Young Kwang.
Jae In slaps him and tells him to stop insulting her family. In Woo says if she doesn’t want to hear this, she just needs to leave the company and never come back. Jae In says fine, she’ll leave then. As Jae In walks away, we see In Woo’s mom has arrived and seen the slap. In Woo’s mom walks up to Jae In and slaps her.
Jae In falls back into In Woo’s arms. In Woo’s mom has Jae In fired immediately. In Woo’s dad also screams that Young Kwang must be fired immediately from the company. The prosecutor walks into the restaurant and introduces herself to Young Kwang’s mom.
Thoughts of Mine:
A few major developments that are alluded to in this episode – Young Kwang’s mom is likely the next to know Jae In’s real identity once she meets with Jae In’s mom (and realizes what her husband REALLY did that is worse than having had an affair), Kyung Joo is in way over her head and looks like In Chul is just using her, and In Woo clearly has feelings for Jae In (likely residual from their childhood and some feelings of guilt). But given just how utterly psychotic In Woo’s daddy is (I worry he might burst a blood vessel in his brain at any given moment what with his spazzing over every little thing), I’m wondering how long In Chul and In Woo can hide Jae In from him? I guess Jae In’s mom has to get strong to come back and collect her soon.
I really like how this drama has mellow moments in between all the melodrama. The moments where the family sits down for meal, Jae In and Young Kwang’s mom slowly bonding, the conundrums of a family head needing to find the means to support the entire family, all of that adds a little bit of levity and quiet to what might otherwise be too much intensity. In Woo’s daddy’s propensity to scream, rage, and beat people up does get old, but otherwise it’s amusing to see how and what is going to cause him to flip his head next.
Jae In and Young Kwang continue to just charm my socks and shoes off with their rather defined yet ill-defined relationship. They think they are half-siblings, yet they are also strangers who are just thrown together and getting to know each other. What ties them together is they trust and support each other, and beyond that it’s not anything either is ready to draw the line yet. Nothing happens that is not acceptable, other than we can see they pretty much adore each other to pieces. Who can blame them? I adore them both as well.