Let me preface by saying this episode recap of Prime Minister and I will by and large not jump the gun on the big pink elephant in the room, namely whether Yul’s ex-wife Na Young is alive and what her return might do to this story narrative. I’ll cross that bridge if and when she gets there because so far the drama has been nothing short of sweet and satisfying and I don’t want to preemptively freak out. PM has won my heart and affection and for that it deserves my benefit of the doubt. Episode 12 was yet another thumbs up episode filled with equal parts hilarity and substantive emotional stirring. Who knew that Hye Joo would be the star of this round and I’m fairly certain she’s going down in the annals as one of my favorite second female leads ever. It’s obvious that Chae Jung Ahn and Yoona look like sisters but now I wish in the drama Hye Joo could find a worthy guy who loves her back and she can end up still good friends with Yul and his entire family so that she doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. I really enjoy how Hye Joo’s character has been fleshed out, initially appearing like the stereotypical bitchy thwarted second female lead and occasionally shooting annoyed glances and Da Jung and not above being slightly petty by warning Da Jung off falling for Yul. That just makes her more realistic as a character rather than a saintly long-suffering type or a one-note girl who veers between two extremes depending on whether she gets a chance with Yul.
Hye Joo never had a chance with Yul and she seemed to know that. She stayed with Yul because she wanted to be around him and also believed that he needed her. Her actions in this episode felt a long time in coming and probably what’s best for her. I thought the entire hospital gangster sequence between her and Yoon He and Da Jung was the hilarity this episode needed to pump up the energy and remind us that there are a lot of girl egos in this drama. I enjoyed that little bit of respite from what turned out to be a succession of long overdue fall outs stemming from Yul’s stabbing. Hye Joo made a decision she should have made a long time ago while In Ho tries to follow his original path only to have a person dart in his path that might upend his entire reason for revenge to begin with. All of that was interesting enough but it was the continued genuine and quiet romantic understanding between Da Jung and Yul that keeps this drama chugging along. Da Jung felt a bit too reactive in the last two episodes but like Hye Joo she also used this episode process everything happening around her and then make a choice. Her decision was every bit what I expected of this brave and candid girl who dares to say how she feels without the safety net of having her feelings reciprocated. Will Yul step up in the next episode? I sure hope so, and with it some clarity about what happened 7 years ago that made him shut his heart up tight.
Episode 12 recap:
A stabbed Yul is rushed to the OR with Da Jung and In Ho accompanying him. Before Yul passes out he can see and hear Da Jung crying over him telling him that he can’t die because she has something to say to him. He wonders if this is a dream? The slowest doctors in the work get to work operating on Yul. Hye Joo arrives and starts crying with worry over Yul’s condition. Yul thinks to himself that he would not have said what he said to Da Jung (about her leaving him and the mansion) if he knew things would turn out like it. He would not have let her cry, and if he can he would tell her now that he didn’t mean any of those things he said to her. If this is a dream then will he wake up from it? Da Jung nervously waits outside during Yul’s surgery. He asks “Will I see you again?”
Joon Ki is informed of the stabbing and told that Yul is currently in surgery. He is about to rush to the hospital to check on him when Hye Joo barges in and accuses him of being behind the stabbing. He clearly isn’t and asks how she could think he was. Hye Joo reminds him that he’s threatened Yul in the past and even said recently that Chairman Na is not someone easy to deal with. Hye Joo threatens to expose Joon Ki and Chairman Na’s wrongdoing. Joon Ki thinks back to Chairman Na wanting to handle things himself if Joon Ki can’t resolve it for him.
Da Jung calls Woo Ri who is at home with Man Se. Woo Ri answers the call and he knows about the stabbing but hasn’t told the younger ones who think their dad went overseas. Woo Ri asks how his dad is doing and Da Jung tells Woo Ri to be strong. He thanks Da Jung for taking care of his dad before hanging up.
Yul’s surgery is done and he’s out of danger and the biggest problem was blood loss. Da Jung thanks the doctors and stays behind in Yul’s hospital room to sit beside him. She asks a resting Yul to wake up and this is so not like him to just lay there. She has something to say to him. Da Jung starts tearing up and encouraging Yul to hurry up and regain consciousness. Yul wakes up and remembers the stabbing, Da Jung crying, himself getting wheeled into the OR. He lets out a sigh.
In Ho takes Da Jung to the hospital cafeteria to feed her and they pass by a group of men in black around a table. Turns out they are gangsters and their gang boss is in the VIP room at the hospital. Da Jung laughs that the gang leader is more powerful than the Prime Minister since he got the only VIP room here. In Ho is pleased to see her laugh finally and encourages her to be strong so she can keep Yul company. He takes out some food to feed her but she declines because she’s not hungry.
In Ho reminds her that he’s her guardian angel and right now her job is to be strong so she can take care of Yul. His job is to take care of her and if she doesn’t listen to him then he’ll quit being her guardian angel. Da Jung takes the food with a smile and digs in.
Da Jung returns to Yul’s hospital room and is sad to see him still laying there asleep. She chides him for laying there when the entire nation is waiting for him. How can he be so weak right now. Yul tells her to stop berating him and how can she talk to a patient this way. Da Jung lights up to see that he is awake.
Joon Ki rushes to go talk with Chairman Na and is told the Chairman is not available to see him. The Chairman passes word to thank Joon Ki for all he’s done in the past but he’s not needed anymore. Looks like Chairman Na might push the blame for the Yul stabbing to Joon Ki.
Yul watches on the news that the assassin has been apprehended and claims to be someone who disapproves of Yul’s recent political actions. Da Jung runs in and turns off the TV not wanting Yul to worry himself watching news of the stabbing. She teases about the dark circles under her eyes now and Yul asks if she was scared? Da Jung admits she was scared so Yul asks if she cried again? Da Jung admits she cried and Yul feels terrible that he keeps causing her to cry despite promising her dad that he wouldn’t. Da Jung takes Yul’s hand and says that none of that is important and as long as he’s alive then she’s happy. Yul looks worried but Da Jung just smiles at him.
Hye Joo arrives at the hospital and sees this scene through the hospital door window. She sighs and walks away and doesn’t go inside to visit Yul.
Hye Joo runs into In Ho in the hospital lobby and he reveals that the assassin is claiming to have acted alone. Hye Joo figures Chairman Na didn’t mean to kill Yul and this was just a warning. Hye Joo turns to leave and In Ho is surprised she’s not staying by Yul’s beside. Hye Joo reveals that there is no place for her beside Yul, and similarly there is no place for In Ho beside Da Jung. In Ho is fine with that and willing to keep watch over her. Hye Joo sighs that protecting and keeping watch over someone is an exhausting endeavor.
Yoon Hee arrives at the hospital with her two cronies complaining about why she has to visit the Prime Minister in the hospital. Her friends remind her that Joon Ki works under Yul and she needs to make sure her husband is in Yul’s good graces. Yoon Hee and her friends walk towards the VIP room where a bunch of men in black are guarding it. She walks over and the guard asks who she is. Yoon Hee barks out that she is Na Yoon Hee and how dare he not know who she is! The guy is cowed and lets her in wondering if she’s the gang leader’s mistress. LOL.
Yoon Hee and her friends walk in bearing flowers and fruit and they see a man laying on the bed with his back to them. The guy tries to get up but Yoon Hee tells him to just rest and then proceeds to gush about his suffering for the sake of the people of this country. She vows that the assassin will be punished and prays for his fast recovery. She keeps crying fake tears over the guy until he finally gets out of bed and stands up. It’s the gang boss (cameo by a hilarious Oh Man Seok) and he’s covered in tattoos up the wazoo. Yoon Hee freaks out and they ask each other “who are you?”
Da Jung and Hye Joo are outside Yul’s hospital room and Da Jung wonders where Yoon Hee and the rest of the ladies are since they told her that they were coming for a visit. Suddenly the ladies rush up and drag Da Jung and Hye Joo off to go save Yoon Hee.
Yoon Hee is getting manhandled by the gangster in his hospital room as he demands to know who she is and why she is here? He grabs her which is when Hye Joo and Da Jung marches in. Hye Joo tells him to let Yoon Hee go and he does only to start feeling Hye Joo up because she’s so pretty.
Da Jung steps forward and tells him to stop it! The gangster wonders where these two beauties came from and it’s not his birthday so it’s like these two presents just fell from the sky. He grabs Da Jung and Hye Joo and asks them to play with him.
The gangster grabs Hye Joo and she ends up wrenching his arm behind him. Da Jung grabs a gift box and smashes him over the head with it. The gangster collapses on his hospital bed and Da Jung grabs Hye Joo’s hand and the three ladies make a run for it. They rush out of the hospital room with the gangster yelling behind them.
Once they are safe, Yoon Hee reluctantly thanks Hye Joo for saving her. Hye Joo asks if she’s going to write online about this incident as well. Yoon Hee fakes tears that she can’t visit Yul today anymore after her distress at what just happened and then rushes off. Hye Joo grouses that Yul is only in the hospital because of a certain someone so how dare Yoon Hee come visit. Da Jung asks what Hye Joo means and she tells Da Jung not to worry about it.
Hye Joo notices blood on Da Jung’s coat and hears she hasn’t changed since Yul was rushed here. Hye Joo will bring her a change of clothes later and Da Jung thanks her. Da Jung asks Hye Joo what she wanted to talk to her about earlier and whether it involves Yul? Hye Joo answers that it did but now she knows the answer and doesn’t need to ask Da Jung anymore.
Yul is on the phone with Man Se who thinks his dad is overseas for work. Yul hears that it was Woo Ri who gave the perfect excuse to his siblings not to worry them and Da Jung compliments Woo Ri on growing up. Yul then asks Da Jung what she wanted to say to him since when he was being rushed into the OR he heard her saying that she had something to tell him. Da Jung brushes it aside as his dream and then changes the subject asking if Yul has farted since it’s really important to fart after surgery. Da Jung quickly excuses herself so that he can fart in freedom.
Joon Ki hears that Yoon Hee visited Yul in the hospital and calls her crazy for visiting. Joon Ki informs his wife that he’s resigning his position. Yoon Hee says her dad did a lot to help him get there and Joon Ki reveals that her dad wants him off the stage now so he’ll comply. Yoon Hee wants to go talk to her dad but Joon Ki tells here there is no need.
In Ho sits with his hyung and reveals his sadness that someone got hurt and he’s really worried about that person. Could it be because of Da Jung? For his brother’s sake he shouldn’t feel that way.
In Ho has lunch with Da Jung’s dad and hears that a volunteer from the Catholic church convent came by to cut everyone’s hair at the hospital. Dad assures In Ho that those volunteers will take good care of his hyung so don’t worry. Dad knows Yul is leaving the hospital today and is happy his Da Jung is taking care of him since that’s her job. In Ho asks Dad to thank the church volunteer who takes care of his brother when Dad sees her next time. Dad assures him that he’ll recognize the lady’s face and then points to her since she’s still at the hospital. In Ho stares and looks shocked.
Yul comes home and the boys greet him happily. Yul thanks Woo Ri for taking care of the house and his siblings during this time. Yul wonders where Na Ra is? She’s at Church praying for all sorts of good things to happen to her family and her crush. The oppa she has a crush on comes by and he asks if she’s been baptized? Na Ra hasn’t and then finds out that her birthday is the same as his. He calls her cute when she compares herself to an angel and that makes Na Ra giddy with happiness.
Yul is back to work already and Da Jung storms into his study and confiscates all his work because he needs to rest right now.
Joon Ki is handing his resignation in to the President and says he will take the blame for Yul’s stabbing since he was so opposed to the recent reforms. The President thanks him for taking the fall for the sake of politics. As Joon Ki is leaving, his secretary asks why he is doing this? Joon Ki has grown weary of being manipulated by his father-in-law and wants to rest for now and think of his next steps later. His secretary gets a call about In Ho’s older brother and looks shocked. He goes to share the information with Joon Ki.
Joon Ki meets with In Ho and reveals he’s connected all the dots. In Ho’s older brother is Kang Soo Ho, Na Young’s sunbae in college and also her psychiatrist. He was also the person with Na Young when the accident happened. In Ho says Joon Ki is missing one element, his hyung was also the last man Na Young loved. Joon Ki asks if In Ho thinks Yul caused the accident? If he has evidence of such then Joon Ki will make sure to destroy Yul. Hye Joo goes to the florist and gets a lovely bouquet intended for someone she really wants to thank. She writes a note to go with the bouquet.
Yul attends church with Da Jung and the kids and wonders why they are here? Da Jung reveals they are here to hear Woo Ri sing. He gave up the band but is continuing to sing at church. Woo Ri sings before the service begins and Yul watches his eldest son pursue his passion for music.
After church Yul talks with Woo Ri to give his approval for Woo Ri to continue pursuing his musical dreams? He asks if Woo Ri is doing it just to oppose Yul? Woo Ri says no and Yul allows him to continue because he hasn’t seen Woo Ro this happy in a long time. He allows Woo Ri to return to the band as long as he’s number 1 in school. Woo Ri negotiates it down to second place in his class.
Na Ra is looking for the cute oppa when a bunch of mean girls walk over to warn her to stay away. Da Jung and Man Se walk over right when one of the girls is about to smack Na Ra. She introduces Da Jung as her mom and tattles to Da Jung that the girls were being mean to her. Da Jung warns the girls to behave and they quickly run off.
Na Ra tells Da Jung that it didn’t mean anything back there when she called Da Jung “mom”. Man Se sees his dad and then goes to tell him that Na Ra called Da Jung “mom” back there. The five of them head home happily.
Hye Joo sits in the Prime Minister’s mansion waiting and waiting for Yul to come home. She ends up leaving the bouquet and note there for him. We see five sets of slippers all lined up and then the family of five come home together. Da Jung tells the kids to prepare for bed and then she and Yul find the bouquet on the table. Yul reads the note from Hye Joo and remembers that she was waiting for him to come home.
Yul calls Hye Joo but she doesn’t answer his call as she sadly walks down the street. Hye Joo flashes back to Yul’s first election as a congressman and how she wanted to keep paying him back for helping set her straight back in middle school.
Da Jung and Yul are in bed and she feels his forehead and worries that he’s flushed from being too tired all day. Yul quietly thanks Da Jung, it’s thanks to her that he finally understood Woo Ri’s love for music as well as his own feelings against it. His ex-wife was a musician which is why he opposed Woo Ri pursuing music, worried that it would trigger memories of her. But that was his own feelings of not wanting to remember his wife. Da Jung asks why he doesn’t want to remember his wife? Yul confesses it’s because he can’t forgive her.
Da Jung thinks that his ex-wife died early and left him behind so it’s reasonable he feels angry at her. She feels angry that her mom left early as well but really she ought to feel sad that her mom left and they are all still alive. Da Jung realizes this is the first time Yul discussed his ex-wife with her and asks him to discuss it in the future when he wants and she’ll listen to him. Yul wants her to go rest but she wants to read to him first.
Da Jung picks up Arabian Night again and starts reading where she left off, promising this time that she won’t fall asleep first. She gets to the part where Scheherazade has to leave the Sultan after she finishes her stories but she doesn’t want to leave because she’s already fallen in love with him so Scheherazade wants to tell him how she feels before she leaves. Yul stops her and points out that he read the book and there is no such section in the book. Da Jung says there is but Yul says that a woman confessing first makes her seem easy. If the Sultan heard Scheherazade’s confession he’ll probably cut her head off for being too easy. Da Jung gets up to leave and Yul wonders why she’s not reading more. Da Jung admits she wants to live longer and leaves the room. Ha!
In Ho pulls up outside the mansion he’s carrying the envelope with pictures of Na Young with his older brother. Da Jung knocks on his car door and he quickly puts the pictures away. Yul is looking for Da Jung around the mansion but can’t find her. He locates Arabian Nights next to Man Se’s nightstand and picks it up. He opens the page and reads to the portion Da Jung was reading last night before she added the portion where Scheherazade didn’t want her story to end because she didn’t want to leave the Sultan. He confirms the book really is different than what she read last night.
Da Jung walks with In Ho and he tells her to visit her dad next time and bring something tasty. He then changes the subject and says he likes seeing her smile as she hangs out with him but wonders how long this will last. Will one day Da Jung look at him differently than this? Da Jung picks up on his worry and asks if what In Ho wants to do involves his brother. In Ho is about to say that the person who caused his brother….but then cuts himself off. Da Jung figures In Ho wants revenge and tries to talk him out of it. He should live his own life well rather than looking for revenge.
Yul stands in his office and broods over Da Jung not wanting to leave his side. In Ho rushes in and reveals that Joon Ki resigned his position. In Ho talks with Hye Joo about Joon Ki’s resignation and she figures he’s taking the fall for the stabbing incident. Hye Joo tells In Ho not to be surprised if more shocking changes were to happen. She takes over for In Ho’s duty today and instead she’ll accompany Yul to visit his alma mater.
Yul and Hye Joo walk through campus and he smiles at the fond memories he had here especially with Joon Ki. She wonders why he’s not asking about Joon Ki’s resignation? Yul sighs and wonders when he will end his feud with Joon Ki? How far back will he have to go to before their friendship changed? Hye Joo would go back to when she was in junior high and the gangster girl in the neighborhood. They reminisce about their first meeting and how she called him a sleazy ahjusshi. Hye Joo points out that time flies and it’s been 25 years since they met. She thanks him for bringing hope back to her life and letting her find a purpose again when she has been rebelling and giving up coming from an abusive father who beat her.
For the 25 years she’s spent by his side she has been very happy and she learned righteousness and justice through him. She hands him her resignation letter through her tears and tells him to take care of himself and live a good life. She likes him, and has liked him since they first met. She wondered when she would ever say these words to him and turns out it’s the day she is leaving his side. Hye Joo walks away leaving Yul staring sadly at her.
In Ho stops Hye Joo as she leaves with her box. Hye Joo reminds him that the day she tells Yul how she feels is the day she leaves his side. She asks In Ho to take care of Yul for her. In Ho gets a call and rushes off.
In Ho arrives at the hospital and hears his brother has been moved to the intensive care unit. He’s out of danger but needs to be under close watch for now. In Ho cries and thinks to himself that nothing can happen to his brother since he hasn’t done anything for him yet. Joon Ki get a call from In Ho and he’s ready to hang over all the evidence to him. He arranges to meet with Joon Ki.
In Ho is driving away from the hospital when he sees a woman walk past and she’s clearly Na Young, Yul’s ex-wife (or current wife since she’s not dead). He tries to follow her but loses her when a truck drives in front of him.
Da Jung looks at the locked music room and wonders when Yul’s heart can finally be opened again? Yul walks through campus and thinks back to Hye Joo’s confession and asking why he still treats her like family despite all the years she’s spent by his side. He remembers Hye Joo saying that she’s his warrior and wanting to protect him at all costs.
Yul comes home and finds Da Jung waiting for him in the courtyard. She can tell something happened since he looks off and Yul reveals Hye Joo tendered her resignation today. She spent 25 years by his side yet he never really understood her. One day Da Jung will leave here as well, right? It’s not far off and when that day arrives, he asks Da Jung to tell him beforehand. He doesn’t want to endure her suddenly leaving as well, he doesn’t think he can take it.
Da Jung confidently says that will never happen. She will never leave his side. Yul looks at her and then Da Jung says “I will never leave your side because I love you.” Yul tells her not to joke but Da Jung says she loves him and it’s not a joke. They stare at each other.
Thoughts of Mine:
Let’s get the big McGuffin out of the way first – that is likely Yul’s supposedly dead ex-wife Na Young that walked in front of In Ho’s car, unless In Ho is prone to fits of delusions in broad daylight. I said last week that if she turned out to be alive then it would be a giant shark jumping moment for this drama but somehow I’m walking back that sentiment now. Her being alive obviously has no bearing on her wanting to return to being Mrs. Kwon Yul, which means she’s not a threat to the future of Da Jung and Yul. Those two have their own emotional hurdles to leap over, at least the returning wife isn’t going to throw her hat in the ring. She’s clearly stayed away and staying hidden for whatever reason, so her return may serve to only free Yul from whatever anger and guilt and deception he’s been carrying around. It’ll also resolve In Ho and Joon Ki’s anger over their sibling fates in life. It’s pretty annoying that both of them are angry at Yul but we can see that Yul is probably the biggest victim in this whole mess. Too bad In Ho’s brother is a vegetable otherwise I want him to answer for his own actions 7 years ago. If Na Young comes back, I hope she gets her skin flayed for pulling a disappearing stunt on her family. I don’t care about her otherwise than praying that her story is reasonable, logical, and ultimately serves a good narrative catalyst in this drama. Anything short of that and it’ll be a sad way to sink what has been a buoyant and happy sailing drama ship for the past 12 episodes.
I love Hye Joo in this episode, from the way she chewed out Joon Ki, helped extricate Yoon Hee, share her experience on one-sided love with In Ho, and then ultimately said goodbye to Yul with her heart on her sleeve but her dignity intact. If she stepped up finally then so did Da Jung with her quiet realization that she loved Yul but without any corresponding push to express herself. She tested the waters when she read the book to him but Yul’s response to her was also his way of keeping her from confessing. But our Da Jung is not to be deterred and her eventual matter-of-fact and perfectly timed confession of “I love you” was beyond anything I could have scripted. It wasn’t the typical soaring drama confession complete with heated stares and a momentous soundtrack. The lack of any music before the “I love you” was amazing because it was just a girl saying what was in her heart without any artifice or angst. She looked him in the eyes and just calmly shared what her heart felt for him and it was as explosive and moving in its quiet honesty as any confession in any drama. The ball is now in Yul’s court and I think his reaction and behavior will be as complicated as we’ve seen of this man. This drama continues to engage my mind and heart every step of the way and tomorrow will hopefully be a major turning point for the OTP.
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