As I watch Hye Won doing the dirty work for and getting humiliated by the Seo clan, I have to ask why. She’s smart, beautiful, talented and fun to be around. Why doesn’t she tell them to get lost? Why does she let Young Woo hurt her? Yes, Seo paid for her schooling, and yes, Young Woo supplied a husband whom Mde Han employed. Some of that debt, however, could have been paid off with five years of indentured servitude. It isn’t a love of control, either. She could to that anywhere. Why haven’t any other schools or foundations scouted her? I think they probably have, actually. Hye Won must know her worth to the family, so it isn’t a lack of awareness about her skill level. Loyalty isn’t keeping her at Seohan. Which of her three bosses could she possibly be the least treacherous with?
Fear is the reason. As horrible as her situation is, Hye Won is afraid to break out, with all its sumptuous trappings and weekly mahjong games with its association with power. Hye Won seemingly thrives in a world full of phony double dealers. Proudly calls herself a Triple agent. The longer she stays, and more deeply she embeds herself into their world, the bigger an uproar getting out will cause. Lee Sun Jae arrives before Hye Won as a pure force without guile. His willingness to take away Hye-won from her husband means he is no innocent. He knows it is wrong, but he isn’t hiding anything.
A persistent voice, whispering now, but gaining volume, calls out from deep deep inside. The voice is telling her to stay near Sun Jae because when she is with him, she is joyful and hopeful. After all her time in the slumlight, she is drawn to this voice like a flower to the sun. Sun Jae’s reality is seducing her. Where people tell the truth. Do what they want. Have no qualms about what others think, but also where people have literally nothing to their name. Does her desire to live happily match up with the courage to let everything go? More importantly, is she strong enough to face the devastation that would should surely follow if she does?
Episode 6 recap:
Sun Jae is walking home down a Seoul Street.
On the ride home, we see more of Joon Hyung’s insecurities and Hye Won’s jealousies. Letting the young man go back to his own house made sense, didn’t it? It was obvious from Sun Jae’s frequent smiles he was more comfortable with her rather than him. It seems to bother Joon Hyung.
Hye Won freezes. Well, that’s because you’re the Professor.
Joon Hyung wonders, if…he…perhaps…is… rejecting Joon Hyung? Hye Won asks why that would be? Joon Hyung’s plan is to be patient and build up a good Teacher/student relationship with affection and trust so Sun Jae will follow him, especially since Sun Jae hasn’t had that in his life yet. He is curious why his wife was willing to let him leave? Hye Won says it was the same reason, which Joon Hyung likes. “I did well, right? Even if it goes against my wishes, l should know to let him go.”
They bring up the girlfriend. Even though the thought bothers Joon Hyung, maybe the right thing to do is allow it. Invite the girl over for meals so they can socialize. Hye Won hates this idea, but says nothing, wisely. It could have benefits. At his age, Sun Jae is going to be active and sensitive so forbidding things won’t work. In fact, a steady girlfriend will help keep him stable.
As neutral as she should remain on that point, Hye Won overreacts. “I thought you wanted a close Student/Teacher relationship – make up your mind!” Joon Hyung senses something is up. “Are you being sarcastic with me?” He accuses her being less than enthusiastic.
They are in this together. If his method’s not effective, she should tell him what would work. I love that she makes “Overreact much?” faces he can’t see.
After apologizing for getting mad, he complains he just doesn’t get Sun Jae. Is he grateful to him or not? Joon Hyung has a hard time reading him. Perhaps it’s because of the environment he came from. This sounds a little too snobby to Hye Won, but she doesn’t pursue this. Hye Won suggests he be sincere and open with him. That will win him over.
She asks Joon Hyung to drop her off, and she has plans with her friends. She even invites her husband to go with, but he declines saying they are too noisy.
It turns out it isn’t true. A quick and cryptic call to Ji Soo sets up her alibi for the evening.
She promises to let her friend in on it later.
Sun Jae is chatting with the new owner of his mother’s restaurant. They have a friendly relationship. He shines his biggest smiles when they talk about his public service,
and the side dishes she’ll make him.
He walks out and finds Hye Won standing on his bottom step which surprises him. “How’d you get here?” “Taxi,” she jokes. She has something to tell him and his phone’s not working. Plus there won’t be many reasons to meet in private from now on, so…
He doesn’t agree, “Why can’t he see her?” doing that charming head tilt for her. She doesn’t answer his question, but looks towards his room. Since she couldn’t find any cafes, and wants to sit down…what does he think? He shoots a look to his room. This is getting a little flirty, I must say. “We’ve only got my apartment then.” She uses the old line: “As your teacher, I want to talk to you.” He’s all “Sure, sure, I get it,” shy at first. Then asks coyly, “Are you certain you‘ll be OK with me? It’s dark and dangerous,”
looking her straight in the eye. She looks away, “Go ahead, I’ll follow you up.” He grins and heads up the steps apologizing for the dirty railing. The light in the hall is out, so he uses her cell phone as a flashlight.
He carefully helps her up, and she holds the light as he unlocks the door, laughing as his backpack knocks into her.
Once inside, he tells her to close the door, and she remembers it’s to keep the mice out. He tells her to wait, then rushes to dampen towels and clean the floor a bit. She surveys the small dingy space – boxes piled high tape holding the floor down. As he wipes the floor she peers at his figure from behind.
It is the same regard as when he was trying on clothes at the boutique. An appraising look from a woman to a man. Sun Jae’s mention that his girlfriend came over from time to time to clean gives Hye Won pause, a sad shadow crosses her face. His pantry consists of ramen noodles, instant coffee, a bottle of water and an electric teakettle.
She sighs and tells him it’s clean enough. He sets down a moving box marked “Music” and solicitously wipes the dust off for her. She declines his offer of coffee and wants water instead. He pours her a cup from his one bottle, and hilariously because it is so unconsciously done, takes a swig himself.
His uneasiness keeps him in constant motion, while she watches with a wry smile. His most often repeated phrases is “Wait a minute.” As he plugs in his phone charger, he sneaks a look at her profile.
After delaying it as much as possible, sets down next her on his own box, waiting for her to begin. When she does, he pulls himself up at attention.
She is here to give him advice. To aim high. It’s important that he knows she and the Seohan audition are merely stepping stones to what matters: preparing for and entering international competitions. He can check the web for more info, and get to know Ji Min Woo. Does he remember him from the concert hall? As Sun Jae pictures Hye Won giving Jo Min Woo instructions, she lists all the international competitions: Geneva in November, France in March, and Tchaikovsky later – He stops her.
He struggles with what he wants to say “You told me ‘You’re different from those kids. You’re special.” She gives him her full attention. “I’m not some little kid acting cute in front of you.”
He draws a nervous breath. “No offense, but I’m not insensitive like your husband.” She grins and laughs. She admits she was trying to scare him because he needs to set goals. But Sun Jae thinks she’s overcompensating for something. Acting all adult-like and underestimating him. He’s not easily intimidated. Sure, with her, he is always a hundred percent honest. There is no reason to lie and there’s nothing to be afraid of.
He wouldn’t act like that in front of others, however. He knows the importance of concealing his feelings to protect her. She considers this. He can do well for that reason alone. Being home boosts his confidence. Here he has nothing to hide. He fidgets a moment with his hair, “Truth is I’m a pretty good guy.” All he needs for her to do is stop worrying and cease playing the adult. He looks earnestly at her, hesitates, and says, “You just need to love me.”
Her eyes widen in surprise.
“You have nothing to lose. It’s obvious I’m the one who loves you more.” She blinks through her reaction, smiling, then laughing in disbelief that he could be this genuine. He’s aware how cheesy it all sounds, but still he means it…. She keeps chuckling and he hides his face ducking his head in embarrassment.
Joon Hyung is home brooding alone. He has an idea and asks the ahjumma to prepare a bag of fruits and snacks for his student. Wait. What? Noo!
Our pair sits quietly, Hye Won boring a hole in the side of the young man’s head with her stare. He actually flinches. She demands “Why are you so stubborn? Do you have any idea how dangerous it is for you show your emotions to the world?” He doesn’t seem to think it is something he can control and doesn’t respond. Instead, he gets up and gives her a box of music books to look at. It is the perfect time to set up his computer. She reproaches him for not listening to her.
Ignoring her, he continues unpacking while she peruses some old music books. Written in on one of the pages is “Make sure to thoroughly watch your peanut and armpits during bath.” Good advice, sure, but it’s an odd place to write it…
She giggles for an embarrassingly long time before he realizes what book she’s holding. He hurries down to her switches out that book for a better one. “This one’s funnier,” he says, taking the peanut book back up with him. The second book was from a younger Sun Jae who has written in his journal how trying to speak English makes his face turn red.
There is a passage from the young musician about how he and his mother both felt the same about a Mozart piece he worked on all day. “A major chord feels like a minor chord; a minor chord feels like a major chord.” Hye Won is impressed and voices that he must have gotten his sense of music from his mother’s side.
He shows her a picture of Oma from his phone.
Hye Won compliments her on how beautiful she was. Sun Jae says that was her only talent as the world dealt with her badly.
Sun Jae agrees with Hye Won that he was raised well. Better than his friends who always got into trouble, and who use foul language – but he didn’t dare disobey and nowadays lives a clean life. “I love my mom very much.”
Hye Won notices that he speaks of her in the present tense.
He wanted to tell his Oma about Hye Won who disagrees that his mother would approve. He should stop trying to woo her now, his mother would have chased her out for dating a boy 20 years younger and done everything to humiliate her.
He “whatevs” her and changes the subject. He picked out some recordings of his pieces for her to hear, and since the traffic has died down, she can listen without headphones. Hye Won has lost the upper hand, and this unsettles her a bit.
His first selection is Liszt Rhapsodie Espagnole – probably because he knows he rocks it and it would impress anyone. He stays up at his computer, listening and visualizing the performance, moving his fingers along with the notes.
His virtuosity transports her. It’s all thunderous chords and swirling scales. She keeps her face purposely turned away from him. Lost in the technique of the cadenza, Sun Jae does not see her.
She is moved and misty-eyed.
We hear the pounding notes that run up and down the keyboard to a dizzying effect. Sun Jae leaves his chair and approaches the railing looking down at her. This is the first time he has witnessed Hye Won’s emotional reaction while listening to him. He tucks himself safely behind the bar that separates them, while she focuses on the sound. His eyes lock on to her small figure for a beat or two,
then he closes them and drops into his crossed arms.
He wipes his forehead.
Meanwhile, Joon Hyung, making his way up the stairs, hears the music and walks towards Sun Jae’s door.
Hye Won’s face is obscured; Sun Jae sways his head to the beat of the music. This is how his heart probably feels with Hye Won in his room six feet from him. Loud crashing tones ring out then end. Sun Jae brings his head up and waits for her reaction. Saying nothing, she holds her face in her hands wiping the tears.
Her distress almost brings him to his feet, but the railing protects him from his desire to comfort her. She collects herself and with a low laugh asks, “You place stuff like this, too? That is one of Liszt’s most difficult ones.” He tells her he saw Son Yeol Eum do it, and “Just wanted to try it.” “At the Tchaikov” he begins.
(He is referring to the 2011 Tchaikovsky Piano Competition and the South Korean pianist who placed second and won other awards, as well) Hye Won asks him why he chops off his words, and he says “Tchaikovsky” bashfully.
The video of her second round performance times inspired him and he watched it many times. Hye Won gets to her feet and turns to face him. She suggests he use that as an audition pieces and he lights up.
Her approval is important to him. He smiles contentedly. Hye Won raises her arms and says, “Come here. I’ll give you a hug,”
With those words, the happy moment is replaced with a much more serious one. Sun Jae’s face blanks.
We see Joon Hyung has been eavesdropping in the hall.
Nervous music begins. Hye Won’s arms fall slowly as she realizes her mistake. Sun Jae shifts his weight from one side to the other. Hye Won lets out a series of dry laughs, looking for a rock big enough to disappear under. “I’ll hug you.” Sun Jae declares.
Joon Hyung remains immobile outside in the hall.
Sun Jae moves down the stairs towards Hye Won, who now begins backtracking: she has to go, but he should take her advice about having clear goals. When he gets close, she freezes – afraid to look up at him.
Reluctantly, as if terrified of the outcome, he awkwardly approaches.
Arms out bear hug style. She steps back when he reaches down to her and squeezes her tight.
At that point, the husband leaves – waiting in his car a while longer. Maybe he is remembering the last time he sat in his car, while they were alone in his apartment.
Jaw clenching and unclenching. The car pulls away.
Sun Jae’s embrace doesn’t relent, and she lets out ragged breaths,
her hands slowly move up his back. He cries, holding her so tight he seems to be crushing her.
His phone rings suddenly and he jumps to answer.
Girlfriend, angry, on the bus, almost home. She tells him he is dead and I wouldn’t put it past her to attempt it.
In a flash, Sun Jae is handing over his apartment keys to the restaurant ahjumma. He wants her to give the to Da Mi and tell her will be right back. Can he borrow the delivery bike for a moment? The pair escapes out into the anonymity of the night. Hold on he tells her, for safety, and she presses against his back absorbing his warmth. It is lovely watching them enjoy their borrowed time on a borrowed bike, although they do make an odd couple.
Both so contented to be sharing this break from the harsh reality facing them at both ends of the short ride.
It does have to end when they arrive at her house, and he offers to take another spin with her. But she cautions you can’t have too much of a good thing. “Too much candy will rot your teeth. Now go back to your girlfriend,” playfully shoving his helmet back at him.
Not wanting to end this closeness, he tells her he could get back her in 3o minutes if he ran. “I’ll come early in the morning to practice and go quietly.” She pauses, and says she plans on sending him a piano from the school so he can practice at his house. Prof Kang will be getting in touch, so he shouldn’t be calling or texting her. Only she can initiate contact. This doesn’t please him and he drops his head. He watches her go; she fixes her hair before entering the house.
Joon Hyung has planted himself on the white sofa.
Sad thoughts churning through his mind. He barely moves when he hears the door opening. Startled to see him, she tells him she’s home. Joon Hyung asks if she had fun with Ji Soo, knowing full well she’ll lie. I wonder when he plans on telling her he knows.
Cool as a cucumber, he suggests Sun Jae play Liszt’s Fantasie Espagnole for the audition. Hye Won gets away from him as fast as she can, while Joon Hyung creepily comes up behind her and watches after she ascends the stairs.
She breathes deep to calm down. A thought occurs and she looks out the window.
Sun Jae is still there.
Wearing his heart on his helmet. Not ready to cut the connection quite yet. When he spots her, she closes the gap in the blinds and pulls back. She stays near the window on the couch; Sun Jae rides away. Later that night she clutches her phone and remembers how he promised to come by in the morning. She will definitely be there at 6:30.
Joon Hyung drinks whiskey through the night, considering his dumb luck that the very kid who could save his career and bring him the most honor is very likely stealing his wife out from beside him.
The next morning, on time, Hye Won props herself up on the windowsill.
She enjoys her perfect view of the happy jogger grinning up at her as he passes.
Husband tells her he slept downstairs watching soccer. When he asks what she’s doing up there, she stumbles over her fibs about which trees she noticed. “Magnol- no pear.” He’s not fooled and questions her, then peers suspiciously out the blinds while she is in the bathroom.
Grabbing he phone, reads “I’m passing by now.” The horrified look on his face tells us this is worse than he had thought. He shoots a look in his wife’s direction continues to read the correspondence between the cheating pair.
Sun Jae runs home, not a care in the world, now that he’s seen his lady fair.
Hye Won arrives at work. She and her secretary look at a bill for a piano repair. Replacing almost everything in it makes the repair costs six times higher than the purchase cost.
They would be better off buying new. Hye Won reassures her that the chairman has already approved, and she should just draft the lease agreement for Lee Sun Jae to sign.
Sun Jae gets a call while hanging out his laundry. The piano delivery guys let him have a look. He’s delighted that Hye Won purchased the one he had sold month ago.
The tuner does his work while Sun Jae stands by. His texts show how touched he is that she returned the piano he grew up with. Strolling down the hall, Hye Won listens to an MP3 file of his Twinkle Twinkle - glowing. The memory of them playing duets and hugging in the piano room relaxes her.
Later that day she sees Da Mi at the salon, requesting the younger girl to speak informally.
They talk about her boyfriend who was fortunately released from jail. Hye Won plays dumb and gets inside information about their reunion. Da Mi is very pleased he decided not to stay with his professor’s house but return home. Da Mi paints a future of her and Sun Jae married. This distresses Hye Won. She requests a towel to cover her face.
The salon ladies convince her not to get her hair straightened because it may age her. It’s tough to hear, but Hye Won thanks her for being honest. They bring up the new company Mde Han is in the process of starting.
Da Mi comes in and they smile at each other. It seems that is a no no at the salon for the workers to make eye contact. A cute text from Sun Jae “Press 1 if you’re busy, press 2 if you don’t like me any more” convinces her to NOT have her hair conditioned. Hye Won anticipates her meeting with Sun Jae.
In an unexpected turn-around, Da Mi locks rich bitch in a bathroom stall to give her what for.
We don’t see the event, except that Da Mi is a threat with nothing but a hairpin.
Walking into the ladies restroom as Joo Ra scurries out, hair all over the place, Hye Won witnesses exactly how dangerous Da Mi’s jealous wrath could be.
Needless to say, this gives her pause for one possible outcome of her getting caught with Sun Jae. It is funny and terrifying at the same time. Da Mi coolly puts the hairpin back in place.
Hye Won, Ji Soo and Jo’s wife are having dinner out. Coincidentally, Jo’s wife is insisting that a twenty-year old nowadays is definitely not a kid, not like back when they were young. Seems except for Hye Won, the ladies had a little fun back in the day. Going for trips in the mountains and filming racy videos. When Ji Soo goes to freshen up, Hye Won wonders what she was doing at that age. She thought everything was fine, but looking back now, it was hell. Jo tells her to look at the bright side. She survived.
Hye Won laments that when she should have been falling in love, she spent time on studies. Motivation to get out of her life drove her to mooch on Young Woo in order to study abroad. Jo’s wife congratulates her on making it to today. Hye Won is overcome with misery. “Today” isn’t all that great. She’s not sure what the heck it is. “My body’s drooping everywhere and my heart has shrunk as small as a grain of sand.” She wonders if she’s trying to regain what she missed back then. Jo’s wife hands her tissues, looking concerned.
Hye Won blurts out, “How am I going to win against a 20 year old?” Fortunately Jo’s wife misunderstood. Was yesterday’s alibi to do with following her husband having an affair with a young chick? Hye Won raises her glass instead of replying.
Sun Jae wills his phone to ring. He plays a snippet on the piano and waits. Jumping to his feet, he takes a call, but it’s from Prof Kang checking him.
Getting back the old piano was his idea and he talked the director into renovating it. Sun Jae tells him he’s going to bed and Joon Hyung hangs up. His wife’s words about giving Sun Jae a hug echo in his mind, then, the younger man’s response. “Let me hug you.” He stares out the windshield no expression.
Mde Han gets apprised of her husband’s dalliance with the soup lady. Gross.
Young Woo is trying to convince her father to let her either run the apparel company or get a divorce, but her father chooses a third option. They need her husband since he runs the legal department.
Young Woo whines that she thought he was supposed to maker her happy. His advice is for her to start and grow a smaller company. He’ll even assign someone to help her out.
Dean Min overhears this and within minutes, Mde Han is abreast and ready to negotiate with Hye Won, the prime suspect as far as the Chairman’s “person.” Hye Won gives an update on the finances at Seo Apparel and the funds Baek worked with. Mde Han would like to run a for-profit business in the foundation’s name and dangles that out before Hye Won as bait. For some reason, Hye Won demurs, saying she’s a scaredy cat. Mde Han doesn’t have the same opinion of her right hand man. There is a gift in the drawer for Hye Won – a gorgeous and very expensive diamond necklace and earrings showing Mde Han’s gratitude to how dependable she is.
Hye Won seems pleased, and squirrels it away in her purse promising to wear it at the next occasion that warrants it. They descend to the drawing room to play mahjong after Mde Han pauses for a word of advice, “You can disobey the Chairman, too, as a strategy.” Hye Won understands the message. The gentlemen who joined them thank her for her gifts from the trip. Seo asks Hye Won to sit at his table. With very little prologue, Seo asks Hye Won to help his daughter, Young Woo, run her a new start-up. She could easily split her time with the foundation.
Young Woo adds that the pay is decent, too. Min butts in that money isn’t everything and makes Young Woo mad. Hye Won is interested in money.
His instructions are to create a business plan and do it up. They are all surprised when Hye Won accepts immediately. Since her goal is to end up full time at the Arts Foundation, she has a condition – complete control over the responsibility she oversees. Young Woo is flabbergasted; Mde Han smirks. Things escalate quickly with Young Woo whipping mahjong tiles at Hye Won’s face. WTF?
They don’t stop the adult brat until after she has also smacked her with a vase and calls her a shrew. Seo succeeds in having his daughter pulled out. Hye Won is cowering with her hands over her nicked face, with Mde Han cradling her head. “Horrid bitch” and other nasties come from the departing Young Woo. Ji Soo is putting a bandaid on her friend when Mde Han compliments her on a job well done. The Chairman won’t be able to refuse her. After all he saw his crazy daughter in action. Hye Won holds an ice pack to her bruised forehead and settling her nerves.
The Chairman will want to speak with her alone which is a good sign. Taking a breath, Hye Won thinks about what this means to her.
Sun Jae is washing dishes. He’s a clean boy, isn’t he? We hear a voice over of his texts as he brushes his teeth, “I’m curious and worried. If you’re not busy or not interested, why won’t you answer?”
The camera pans down to the street below his apartment. Hye Won sits in the front seat looking miserable. Sun Jae’s phone rings as he spits out the toothpaste in haste. “Yes, Teacher,” he answers.
Hye Won pauses “Son Jae-ah,” using the familiar form of his name,
“Do you know how to drive?” He brags that he does. “I need a driver who’d keep me safe,” she requests and she has him running out to her in seconds.
She moves over to the passenger side, her hair covers the gash from Young Woo. “Just drive anywhere for two hours,” she commands, “without talking.” “Yes’m,” he replies, “I’m good at being quiet.” He starts the car.
Sun Jae has been instructed not to touch Hye Won; he understands that whatever joy he has being near his goddess will disappear in a heartbeat if he goes too far with her. With the two of them, there is no such thing as an innocent embrace. They know full well that only disaster will result in them giving in to temptation.
What Sun Jae clearly understands, as well, is he doesn’t need physical contact to affect her. It is not how they connected originally. When she goes up to his room, his domain, he fails using words to please her. So he goes back to the one thing he knows she cannot resist, his music.
In the Lizst scene, there is too much going on for me to get it on one pass. Five or six dynamics jump out at the same time. All of them heartbreaking. The percussive music of thick chords mix in with the pretty high chiming notes the scene unfolds. He looks at her, he loves her. He feels rather than sees her. The beauty of the music and of the player just by itself is touching. The connection between the pair – musical, soulful – whatever we can agree on. His pitiful situation of being poor and motherless and frustrated. The pain she carries everyday while showing a fake carefree attitude and living a life that doesn’t belong to her. The unfairness, maybe, that they met when they did with absolutely.no.way. to fulfill their reciprocal desire to stay together. I am willing to give up a kidney if it would make things better, but I feel as helpless as they do.
She is his Guinevere to her Lancelot in Seohan’s Court. The white knight whose arrival heralded a bright future for Arthur. Hye Won and Sun Jae are blessed and cursed by this passionate, pure and precious love. Unless they resist, their betrayal of Kang threatens the destruction of the very place Sun Jae was sent to save. As they get drawn inevitably towards each other, I cover my eyes in fear, and peek out through my fingers in hope.
© 2014, jomo. All rights reserved.