I had read the Alphonse Daudet story a couple of weeks ago to see what Dong-ha was talking about. Here is one link to the full text. It is a short story, fittingly romantic and a little melancholic just like the Dong-ha we have come to know. It isn’t supposed be an action packed-story, but I found his love for the beautiful demoiselle moving. Stepanette was a girl the Shepherd could never have for himself. She was too beautiful, too out of reach, as out of reach as the stars they watched together one magic night on the mountain.
We know that up to this point, that sums up how Dong-ha feels for Bom-yi. The more time they spend together, however, the more room he is making for her in his heart and mind. The greedier they are both becoming in wanting to stay close despite everyone else’s opinion. Working in the same company as a way to force intimacy is almost as reliable as forced cohabitation. My drama senses are tingling at the possibilities.
Episode 8 recap:
We step back in time from the end of the last episode. Bom-yi is gazing at her Udo Island map and puts her hand over her heart telling it, ”You are my heart now. I’ll go where I want to.”
Her mom advises Bom-yi who is leaving for work. (I believe she took this advice from the 1950’s handbook: Woman Know Thy Place is in the Kitchen but not a Professional One, the One Where Your Husband Permits You to Prepare His Meals) “Behave yourself and don’t cause any trouble. Be calm and modest like a lady.” This is the best that Mom, who runs her own hospital, btw, can come up with. Pleasing Dr. Kang’s mother so she can get married without a problem is top priority.
Suspicious Dad wants to know if she’ll be running into the CEO. He doesn’t think she should get close to him to avoid jealousy from the other workers. Bom-yi replies that she doesn’t think she will see him there. She leaves. Dad has a hunch that makes him sigh.
CEO walks in before Bom-yi, who watches from behind a pillar. Recalling when she told Dong-ha she was afraid he never wants to see her again, she hesitates going in. Se-na and she try to figure out who hired her after all. Meat Mom welcomes them onto her team.
She is Hanu Haon Plant Manager, and informs them they will be responsible for the new retail line of seasoned grilled beef sold in Korea and China. She smiles at them all, but clears her throat at Bom-yi. This makes Se-na guess it wasn’t her who made the hiring decision. The CEO’s voice comes over the loud speaker. Mom explains that unless there is a special occasion, he starts the day sharing a good story. It’s kinda hokey, but Bom-yi lights up hearing Dong-ha’s voice. He quotes Thomas Edison,
“A genius is often merely a talented person who has done all their homework,” and tells them he thinks his employees are the greatest ones he has ever met. He signs off wishing them good luck for the day.
They go next to greet the CEO in the New Employees welcome. Dong-ha shows surprise to be handing over the certificate to Bom-yi. He holds her hand lightly before moving on.
We find out in a conversation with Dong-ha, it was Mom who made the hiring decision because of Dong-wook’s request. “I was feeling guilty because I let my personal feelings affect her interview so I did what he asked. You don’t need to treat her as Dong Wook’s fiancée. Just treat her as one of your employees. Dong-ha considers this impossible task. “You mean treat her as any of the people who currently have my dead wife’s organs in them? I think there’s a guy in Accounting with her liver. Yeah, I’ll roll with that plan…”(I made up that last part.)
Dong-wook runs into Bom-yi’s dad at the hospital. He wants to know why he thinks it isn’t a problem for Bom-yi and Dong-ha to talk. What if she finds out about the heart? Dong-wook assures Dad that it won’t happen. That “just an employee” Bom-yi won’t bump into each other that often. Hehehe
Dong-ha hides in his office and refuses to go to the new hire lunch. Sec Lee tisks that the CEO is acting like a shy, little girl. (Maybe Dong-ha has been reading the book Bom-yi’s mom gets advice from….OK, I’ll stop.)
Jumping right in to her new responsibilities, Bom-yi is hard at work creating some sauce or another chomping on an enormous apple. She also skipped the team lunch; Se-na brings back take-out for her. “Even though you went out of your way to avoid him, the CEO didn’t show up either.”
Dong-ha hangs out in the test kitchen – Ripening Room – with Mom and her team. He overhears a phone conversation between his mother and Bom-yi about the sauce she just finished.
Mom wants to know “Why didn’t you come to lunch?” She instructs her to bring the sauce quickly, so Dong-ha makes himself scarce, claiming he has an important appointment. Upstairs, Bom-yi tries to avoid meeting Dong-ha as well, begging Se-na to take the concoction to the Ripening Room.
“How am I supposed to explain it? I understand why you skipped lunch, but if he keeps you from doing your job properly you shouldn’t come to work. This is way over the line.”
Reluctantly, Bom-yi descends the stairs, picking up speed as she goes, turns a corner and BAM, collides with Dong-ha pouring the sauce all over the front of his suit.
Ahhh, perfect! He worries about her first; she fusses over him. When he tastes the spilled liquid, he identifies mushrooms, impressing Bom-yi. “Wow, you really are a master.” He declares it smells good, too. She thanks him and tells him to take a shower. “There’s a shower room in the back. I know because I used it last time when I got milk all over me.”
They make eye contact as she trails off. The memory of the silly and carefree moment flashes through both of their minds, and they grin. OMG sooo awesome. Ordering him to go clean up, she runs up to his office for his spare clothes, not listening to his protests that Mr. Park can do it.
The oxford shirt Bom-yi fetches is missing a button.
In the locker-room, a shirtless but disappointedly already dry Dong-ha is alarmed hearing Bom-yi’s voice call his name, covers himself modestly.
She brought him his clothes, and stays on the other side of the wall to hand them over.Thanking her, then putting the shirt on, he notices one tortoise shell button has been added – one that doesn’t match the rest of the white ones. They meet outside after he is dressed. Bom-yi apologizes again; he struggles to find words.
Noting Bom-yi has a green paper clip closing her smock rather than the button, he now realizes she transferred hers onto his shirt. Their eyes meet, and she smiles. Even less words come out of him if that is possible, and she starts to leave.
“Let’s talk,” he suggests.
They sit in companionable silence while Dong-ha ponders what he wants to say, Bom-yi’s hand wants to touch his hair, but she resists. They trade apologies.
Him for not hiring her. Her for going to his house the previous night. While he wasn’t the one who got her the job, he tells her she deserved it and urges her to do well. Bom-yi understands why he has to keep his distance from her, but she confesses it hurts a lot. While she debated staying home, she realized her desire to work was too strong. Her plan is to work quietly and hopes eventually he will be comfortable around her. His face suggests otherwise. The problem is how much she enjoys her time with him. Her belief there is a reason they share a special fate gives him pause, but he doesn’t say anything. She’s sorry, but she won’t give up on having a good relationship with him, Poo Reun and Ba-da like they used to.
A montage of her fateful encounters and the ensuing fun of hanging with the Kangs remind them how sweet it all was. Admitting she is greedy and selfish, she hopes even if it isn’t right away, he will consider it.
He nods, thoughtfully, and says, “OK.”
She thanks him. If only it were that simple. His eyes remain on her face as a wistful smile creeps onto his lips.
Returning to her kitchen, she pauses by a poster board ad with the CEO’s giant face on it, reaching to stroke his hair. Embarrassed, she stops herself and checks her surroundings, grateful that nobody witnessed it.
Dong-ha holds the button and mulls over their situation. In her space, Bom-yi holds the paper clip, smiling. His thoughts feel heavier than hers, a girl who is falling in love vs. a man who is desperately trying not to.
Dong-wook grabs Ji-woo as they leave the hospital to go somewhere. He wants to buy Bom-yi a gift for landing her new job. Nothing expensive since he doesn’t want to be a burden. They eat together at a restaurant they used to frequent. She accuses him of using her to fill his time without Bom-yi. He even feeds her some food as if they are on a date. Gosh, they should get back together already!
Bom-yi toils away after everyone else has left, playing with her neato cool phone that does awesome things. Meat Mom peeks in and compliments her on her first day on the job. Bom-yi needs to let Mom know she is healthy and that she will work hard for her. But why is the plant manager still at work? We discover she lives there.
Dong-ha departs coincidentally at the same time as Bom-yi and spots her on the driveway out. He looks like he’s thinking, “Really? Again? Can’t a guy avoid a girl?”
Bom-yi recognizes his car, and awkwardly indicates that he can pass…still he stays back…weighing his desires against his judgment. His car creeps up behind her, he can’t seem to decide if he should stop and give her a ride or not. The girl waits, too, slightly excited that he’s back there. Finally, she turns and peers back at him, inquiring with her eyes what he decided. He gets out of the car, telling her to get in despite her weak protests. “It’s dark and dangerous.” He explains.
She tells him it’s the first time she is in the car he is driving, but he reminds her of their rides on Udo: on the bus, in the truck…They share a grin and a moment. She can’t help but ask why his mother lives at the plant. He explains it was a consequence of his wife’s death. His mother has a hard time saying good-bye to the people she lost, so she stays away, settling for pictures of her grandchildren to watch their growth. He takes her all the way home instead of dropping her off at the bus stop, repeating, “It’s dangerous.” They arrive at her gate, and she gets out of the car. His eyes never leave her. I breathe very shallowly. She bows and mouths, “Thank you.” He leans forward indicating he didn’t understand.
She repeats it s-l-o-w-l-y, and he nods that he got it, waving his hand “No problem.”
Still, they linger, neither wanting to break the connection. He does, first, nodding in a sortuv, “Get it together, Dong-ha,” gesture to himself. He pulls the car away and she remains outside even after he’s gone.
When Dong-wook gets home, he pauses by the “The flowerpot of Poo-reun and Ba-da’s mind,” inspecting the tiny sprouts coming up out of the soil. The kids’ grandmother wants to talk to him, he finds out from Poo-reun, because she found the soup in the freezer that Samchoon’s girlfriend made. Gramma is surprised that a woman was here when she was gone; this makes her sigh. Hanging out with his brother’s girlfriend is a big no-no. Rather than risk anything else untoward happening, she suggest she take the kids and go to Udo, leaving him free to find his own woman.
Yikes! This would make his mother stop worrying about him, too. As much as she likes living with them, she is more concerned that he gets married again. It must be afamiliar refrain because he grumbles,“You’re doing it again?”
He finds his kids on his bed, they tease back and forth that his is better since it is more expensive. Poo-reun asks how long Gramma nagged him, but he complains Poo-reun’s nagging makes him more tired. She spots the out-of-place-button and asks about it, stating it suits him. Hesitantly he asks if Poo-reun has been keeping in touch with Unni, which she hasn’t to stay on his good side. When he permits her to, she lights up, though he warns not to take advantage of their friendship by asking for favors. Poo-reun is quick to point out; he’s the one who owes Bom-yi since she took care of him when he was sick.
Bom-yi absentmindedly sews her button on the wrong side of the placket (Thanks, Google!), recalling Dong-ha’s words mesmerized by his voice. She pictures his hands shaking hers, wiping her tears and touching her chest. “What am I thinking?” she laughs, noticing the button is sewn on wrong.
She eats breakfast with her family the next day; they comment how much she eats. When her packed lunch is brought to her, they wonder about the cafeteria – isn’t there one? It’s because she likes to eat and work at the same time. She brings up how the CEO reads inspirational stories every day to his staff, and they recall that was done in their school days. She likes it. The parents disagree whether it is old-fashioned or classic, though Dad’s quip that the CEO is old enough to do it is not lost on Bom-yi. He keeps silent on his concerns.
On her way out, Dong-wook greets her, apologizing for not letting her know he was coming.
He brought the wallets to congratulate her on her employment, which her father told him about. He tells her not to worry, that he got one for Se-na, too. She declines his offer for a ride.
At work, Se-na gets all excited about her own wallet at the same time scolding Bom-yi for accepting it. When she opens it and sees it isn’t all the expensive, she lets them keep them. The CEO’s announcement begins. Se-na is about to snark, but Bom-yi shushes her, a dreaming expression on her face. Se-na teases how much she likes it; Bom-yi claims she likes the good advice he doles out.
Ji-woo calls Dong-ha, she wants to see him. She lets him know they can stop fake seeing each other. They both agree to stay friends. Bom-yi and Se-na are heading over for coffee when Bom-yi sees the pair sitting comfortably chatting. Before they can get away, Ji-woo spots them gaping from a distance like two schoolgirls.
She greets them with a nod, but the CEO and Bom-yi’s extended gaze strikes her. Ji-won was unaware that Bom-yi was working there. He just laughs maintaining it was something that just happened. She realizes how hard it must be for him to be around the one he shouldn’t like – it’s a sweet hell. He asks if the one she likes works at the hospital with her. When she admits it, he asks if it is OK with her.
Bom-yi blends juice, and sighs. Se-na knows it is from jealousy, which Bom-yi tries to shake off. The juice – four glasses – are delivered to a grateful Meat Mom and her team. The last glass, which Dong-ha knows was intended for him, remains unclaimed as he peers in from outside the door. Watching his mother and his love work together makes him smile.
The team has an offsite gathering. Outside, Se-na and Sec Lee flirt as Dong-ha passes Bom-yi on the way to his car. He doesn’t give her a first look, let alone a second glance as they depart.
A translator lets the CEO know how pleased the Chinese buyers are with the delicious beef and sauces they have tasted. Everyone thanks everyone for doing a good job.
Flash-forward, buyers and Hanu Haon team have gotten comfortable at an after party, doing shots and drinking lots of beer. Se-na and Sec Lee continue to flirt. Bom-yi sits quietly by, not drinking, and glancing over at the CEO’s table. He turns around when they shout, “Love shot.” Bom-yi nods shyly in greeting.
Party has progressed to the next level – folks have changed places – everyone is decidedly drunker. The CEO now sits across the room facing Bom-yi – the alcohol has made him decidedly bolder. He gazes at her outright – long enough to make Bom-yi happily nervous.
He excuses himself to get air. Se-na drunkenly listens to Bom-yi who muses. “I’m a little strange. My hands…My ears…My eyes…It feels like they all…have lives of their own.” None of it registers with her friend.
Bom-yi finds the CEO sitting outside; his eyes are closed so he isn’t aware of her right away.
When he opens them, he pauses, and tells her she did a good job that day. Thanks to her they got the contract. When she asks if he is ok, he remarks that he gets drunker faster in his old age. But she thinks he appears younger for his years, contradicting what she said on Udo Island – that he looked like he was in his fifties. She contends the more she knows him, the less she thinks that. He scoffs – he doesn’t buy it. Because she can’t resist, she asks if he is seeing Miss Bae. “Friends,” he corrects her, they are just friends. Her face relief. Dong-ha’s intense stare makes her ask “Why?” He smiles and tells her she is pretty. “Bom-yi. You’re very pretty.” Which is really nice to hear, but he changes it a bit, “Your mind is,” making her laugh and respond with a formal, “Ah, yes, sir.”
They both chuckle. Keeping the tone light, he wonders why such a pretty woman is getting close to him. It’s difficult for him and he tells her to go away. “No,” she refuses, “I like you, so don’t push me away.” “Do you like me that much?” “Yes,” she answers. “Those feelings aren’t real,” he replies, but she wants to know why. His reply is completely honest, “The original owner of the heart may have liked an old man like me,” She dismisses this. “I don’t believe it. You told me my heart is mine, so that means my feelings are, too.” Agreeing with her, since it is a conclusion he has already come to, he considers that idea for a moment. “You’re right.” He rests his chin on his arm, examining her smiling face without speaking.
This forces Bom-yi to ask again why he is staring at her like that. “To keep you in my eyes, and in my heart, so I can engrave you there.” They remain comfortably in that position, him not looking away, and Bom-yi enjoying his attention.
Back home, she sits down on her bed grinning ear to hear, touching her palms to her cheeks. This girl is completely head over heels now. There is no turning back.
Dong-ha talks to Soo-jung’s photo. “I thought I liked her because of your heart, but now I don’t think that’s true anymore. He brings his head down, “I’m sorry that is not true.”
The next morning, Bom-yi’s mom remarks that her daughter who usually wears jeans and sneakers is pretty in a skirt. Bom-yi is still beaming, and hoping for reassurance from her mother, asks, “You want me to be happy, right?”
“Yes, of course…Why?” Bom-yi smiles mysteriously.
At the office, Se-na also comments how pretty her friend is all dressed up.
The CEO’s message today seems aimed specifically at Bom-yi. He reads from Daudet’s The Stars. They both recall their first night together as he reads “Never were the stars so brilliant. Stepanette rested thus without stirring. One of the most brilliant most exquisite stars having lost its way alighted on my shoulder to sleep.” Happiness suffuses Bom-yi’s face. She takes this as open declaration from Dong-ha.
Dong-ha, meanwhile, has called his brother out at the hospital to talk.
He wants to make sure Dong-wook goes and visits his kids from time to time since they’ll be alone with their grandmother at home. Dong-wook doesn’t understand. Is Hyung going somewhere? “Yes, I just want to stay in Udo for a little while. Please do this for me.” This doesn’t clarify things for Dong-wook. Dong-ha tells him to go back inside to work. Before leaving, he asks, “Do you know the story of Alphonse Daudet’s The Stars? Do you know why it’s so beautiful? It’s because the shepherd isn’t greedy in the story. It’s because he let go of Stepanette.”
Bom-yi, beautiful in love, searches everywhere for her shepherd, unaware of the motivation for him telling that story that day.
He gets in the car, “I’m done talking. It’s all over.” He holds Bom-yi’s button from his shirt, and tells the driver, “Let’s go now.”
Not cool, Dong-ha. Of course, you always expect Noble Idiocy to rear its ugly head when two brothers fall in love with the same girl, but I still hate it. Currently, there is no way for this not-a-couple to connect. Dong-wook may think that Fate had a strong influence bringing Hyung and Bom-yi together, but that doesn’t mean they are at an advantage. It doesn’t mean happiness is just out of reach for them. There are way too many obstacles currently. The largest one is Dong-ha himself. It doesn’t matter what the universe thinks should happen if he doesn’t choose to pursue his attraction to Bom-yi.
What I like about interactions between Bom-yi and Dong-ha is how honest they are with each other. She speaks from her heart, and what he allows himself to say is strictly the truth. There is sweetness to how they view their stuck in the middle predicament. Rather than try to pretend nothing is wrong, or that his feelings don’t exist, they seek to find a livable solution for her, him and his family. There is no bitterness, no wringing of the hands in misery. At least, so far.
The softening of Bom-yi, with the dewy eyes, faraway smile, hiding in own little corner so she can replay all the interactions with Dong-ha are accurate depictions of a woman in love. Even a feisty one. Hormones are a’flowin’, Bom-yi is finding no reason to resist. This feeling is wonderful. And surprise, it’s new. We get the distinct impression that as cute and loving as Dong-wook seemed to be, he never touched her as deeply as his Hyung. In fact, I wonder how much skinship they shared over the years. As her doctor, Dong-wook would have seen Bom-yi in all stages of undress.
How do you shift from that to having an intimate touch? The scene where Dong-wook listened to her heart with his stethoscope revealed no nervousness between them. No frisson passed as she lifted her shirt. Dong-ha, as we have seen over the last two episodes, can touch her from across the room. He thinks he is simply engraving her face in his memory scrutinizing her every feature, but the opposite is happening, too. He may be prepared to suffer the pain of leaving her behind, but does he have any idea how devastating his absence will be to Bom-yi?