There are so many macro elements I love about Pinocchio but this drama continues to delight even more with the small details that I’m particularly partial to. I love winter setting K-dramas with the cold contrasting with the growing intensity of emotions and so far the drama masterfully brings in the chilly outside world intruding on the formerly idyllic world of Dal Po and In Ha. After they left the island and landed in Seoul, becoming reporters is their first real foray into a more complicated worldview and with it their growing love-can’t love push and pull becomes even more heightened.
In Ha can’t help but still like Dal Po just like nothing Dal Po can do will end his love for In Ha, their fake family ties and her mother bedamned. That doesn’t mean they should just give it a go, their process of trying to hold back is what makes them so similar in how they both value family over budding romance. Dal Po goes home to Grandpa when he hits his first career speed bump while In Ha finds winning one round nothing to celebrate about if it comes at the expense of Dal Po. The case of the episode was a little ham-fisted but gets the job done and hammers home some excellent points to ponder, not to mention another chance for skinship.
Episode 7 recap:
Dal Po and Yoo Rae head back to YGN and she’s especially pleased that all their police station squatting hell has yielded tangible results to nab the gym death story that will make it their first story to air. They notice In Ha heading into MSC and Yoo Rae feels bad the MSC pair will get chewed out for losing the juicy story.
Dal Po calls out to In Ha and comes clean that their side got a hold of the CCTV footage and will be broadcasting it tonight. In Ha snarks back about Dal Po thinking he’s got an exclusive except he made a big mistake. She’s about to say more when Bum Jo tosses In Ha over his shoulders and carts her inside MSC before she clues Dal Po in what their side has up their sleeve.
The YGN team sit down to run through the story, believing they have the exclusive footage from the gym and plan to package it into a story about the perils of too much exercise and tie it with the student who died riding the exercise bike.
The MSC team is also discussing their news line up and the heads want to run the gym death story as well. Cha Ok is deep in thought before announcing that MSC should hold back the story and let YGN run their version first. It will let MSC come in afterwards to tear down YGN’s report. Reporters Lee and Kim wonder why the gym story is behind held back and hear that Chief Song is planning to use it to attack YGN’s credibility rather than get the scoop on the exclusive.
In Ha gets a call from Dal Po but Bum Jo tries to stop her from answering the call. In Ha wants to gloat to Dal Po who thinks he has the exclusive. Bum Jo warns her not to get too happy since YGN can also turn around and ruin their hard work if they catch wind of it. The MSC news honchos walk out from their meeting and the network head notices rookies In Ha and Bum Jo outside and compliment their hard work on getting this great exclusive. In Ha declines the effusive compliments since she’s a Pinocchio who can’t lie so she doesn’t like undue praise. That pleases the bosses who like her straight shooting attitude.
Dal Po can’t reach In Ha and is worried about what she was trying to say earlier, knowing it doesn’t bode well for YGN’s supposed exclusive. Yoo Rae pooh poohs Dal Po’s worry and points out only YGN got the CCTV footage. The other YGN rookies join them and ask to hear how they got this big story. Yoo Rae narratives their intrepid story gathering and the other rookies applaud their hard work. Dal Po remains perturbed thinking about why In Ha said that he made a mistake.
Dal Po asks the gathered rookies why they think an overweight ahjumma would try to lose so much weight in such a short period of time. Yoo Rae sticks with their assumption that she was smarting over her ex-husband marrying a pretty young thing. Dal Po thinks that is not a good reason to push herself so hard and the other rookies ask if they tried to reach the family members to confirm more details. They did try but couldn’t reach anyone, but now Dal Po heads out to try and contact them again.
The nightly news is about to start when Dal Po arrives at the funeral hall and meets up with the deceased’s daughter. The daughter is disabled and in a wheelchair and Dal Po introduces himself as a YGN reporter to ask about her mom. The daughter reveals that she just gave an interview to the MSC reporters.
Dal Po hears the truth from the daughter who is suffering from acute liver failure and her mother happened to be a match. The mom is a liver donor but the doctor’s refuse to do the transplant since her mother is severely overweight and first needs to lose weight. The daughter had given up hope so she didn’t realize her mother would workout excessively to lose weight and donate a liver to her daughter. The daughter sobs in pain over her mother dying to save her life.
The news starts and Anchor Lee’s YGN report starts about the gym death report and the network shows the CCTV footage of the daughter’s mom dying. Dal Po desperately tries to get them to turn off the TV in the funeral hall but the segment plays while the daughter sobs in pain. The MSC folks watch the YGN segment and smirk knowing that the YGN report is wrong. The daughter cries to Dal Po that the news report is all wrong and her mom didn’t die for beauty, she died to save her life. Dal Po is devastated and can only apologize to the daughter.
Minutes later MSC runs their version of the report. Cha Ok reports that an overweight woman died working out at the gym so she could lose weight and donate a liver to save her dying daughter. The YGN rookies are stunned while the sunbaes are all screaming for why their network broadcast an incorrect story. The phone lines light up with complaint calls to YGN while MSC broadcasts interview footage with the daughter.
Cha Ok gives her closing statement that a death from working look appears to be about the quest for beauty but after peeling back the onion MSC discovered the truth. She extols viewers to keep watching MSC news which will always broadcast the truth. Hyung Jae Myung watches Cha Ok on TV and clearly remembers her from the past.
Dal Po goes back to YGN after his first big failure and sits down in the empty conference room. Dal Po looks across the conference table and sees the angry righteous him from the final YGN interview chewing out In Ha about the importance of watching what a reporter says because of the ramifications. Dal Po understands but argues that he did everything he could to be certain, calling tens of times to reach the family, what more could he do? He realizes that what he said to In Ha that day could be directed at himself now and Dal Po restrains his agony and accepts that he’s changed in doing this job.
The next morning In Ha barges into the reporter lounge looking for Dal Po but Yoo Rae hasn’t seen him either since last night. In Ha tries calling but the call goes to voicemail.
The YGN news team meet to look over last night’s ratings where MSC rose significantly and now proves to be a strong competitor. YGN can’t rest on its laurels anymore and Anchor Lee declares that they need to not make the same mistake again and stick with their tried and true style.
The reporter cadre are hanging out and Reporter Kim uses the chance to jab PD Hwang for coming in first in ratings with the unsaid aside about the big YGN mistake last night. Bets are made for the next ratings and more reporters change their bet over to MSC. PD Hwang is uncowed and places his bet confidently for YGN while staring down Reporter Kim.
PD Hwang gets a call from a worried Reporter Jang that Choi Dal Po is missing. He calls Dal Po’s phone and goes to voicemail. Turns out Dal Po is at home and taking a father-son bath and washing Grandpa’s back. Grandpa notices how dirty the water is and Dal Po explains he can’t bath himself or his clothes while on mission. Grandpa is grossed out and wants to bath separately next time but Dal Po says he wants to keep bathing together.
Yoo Rae is chatting with another reporter who pities the YGN report fail and wonders if their sunbae Reporter Jang chewed them out? Yoo Rae is surprised he didn’t which scares her even more. Conversation is interrupted with the arrival of a richly dressed woman, Bum Jo’s oddly protective mom saunters into the police station and Yoo Rae recognizes her as the chairwoman of a major mall. Yoo Rae scurries over to talk with her and is shocked to hear that she’s here to see her son Seo Bum Jo.
Mom frets when a ragged Bum Jo walks out to greet her. Bum Jo retreats to the car with his Mom and gets a new warmer coat. He hears Mom watched the gym report segment which he’s very proud of, even more so now that viewers are scrambling to donate money to the daughter to pay for a liver transplant. Bum Jo is happy that the news helped someone but he’s still worried about In Ha and asks if Mom brought what he asked?
Chan Soo brings a health tonic to In Ha in the reporters lounge and cautions her not to get sick and be a burden. In Ha wants a case tip from him rather than the tonic but she’s clearly already under the weather. In Ha hears that Dal Po is still missing and no one has seen him since the report.
Bum Jo and his mom swan into the reporter’s lounge bringing upgrades to the rat hole and In Ha immediately cuddles with all the new goodies like new blankets and her favorite snacks.
Dal Po complains about the reporter’s life to Grandpa and wants his approval to not do this job anymore. Grandpa wonders if Dal Po doesn’t want to do the job because he’s afraid of what it entails? Dal Po remembers the daughter crying about her mom dying of losing weight for the liver transplant and admits to Grandpa that he is scared. Grandpa counsels Dal Po to transform the fear into power and he’ll do fine as long as he knows what to expect.
Dad comes home and feels slighted as the unloved son seeing that Grandpa cooked eel for Dal Po and even handed him the tastiest tail portion.
Dal Po lays in bed remembering how excited he was to become reporters with In Ha. He sits up and calls the network informing them that he’ll be coming back to work now.
Reporter Jang is pacing the news floor wondering how he should react when Dal Po comes back to work? Chew him out? Anchor Lee suggests letting it go since Dal Po isn’t such an incompetent rookie. Anchor Lee points how the sunbaes were once epic fail rookies – like one news head who threatened to jump off a building when he was a rookie or how Reporter Jang had his dad show up at the newsroom and toss a bucket of snakes at PD Hwang in retaliation. Ahahaha.
Dal Po returns to work and sincerely apologizes to both sunbaes. Anchor Lee tells him to head on in and keep working hard. Reporter Jang awkwardly welcomes him back and barks at him not to create any more messes.
Dal Po walks into the conference room to apologize to PD Hwang for his big mistake. PD Hwang sends Dal Po back to work and Dal Po asks why he’s not getting yelled at for the mistake. PD Hwang admits he forgave Dal Po because he, too, made a mistake when he was a rookie. Thirteen years ago he reported a story that destroyed a family.
Dal Po wants to know how PD Hwang got over it and hears he never did. He quit as a reporter and worked as a PD for many years, until 5 years ago when he got chewed out by the son of that family. That conversation made him embarrassed that he ran away from a mistake so he returned to being a reporter.
In Ha is starting to get sick at the police station and Bum Jo tries to take care of her and almost let’s slip about the last time she got a cold. In Ha refuses his offer to take her to the hospital since she has to get a story.
In Ha spots Chan Soo walking by and waylays him to get a tip and asks what he’s reading on the clipboard. She threatens to infect him with her cold unless he shows it to her. Chan Soo keeps her at arms length while revealing that he’s reading a call log related to the container fire. In Ha orders Bum Jo to get the info in case it comes in handy later.
Chan Soo holds it high but Bum Jo is tall enough to hold up his cell phone to snap pictures. Dal Po arrives and silently reads the call log and memorizes the numbers with him speedy memory. In Ha is surprised to see Dal Po ask and gets called aside to talk. Chan Soo reveals that In Ha has been looking for Dal Po while he’s been gone. In Ha grabs Bum Jo’s arm and drags him off while claiming she has nothing to say to Dal Po.
Chan Soo can see In Ha is avoiding Dal Po and hears that Dal Po said some mean things to her. Chan Soo can’t believe Dal Po hasn’t changed that habit and yells at him for always being the same way towards him when they were in high school.
Bum Jo and In Ha go bother a traffic cop to ask for tips on a crashed car towed into the lot. In Ha’s knees almost buckle and both Bum Jo and Dal Po hurry to steady her. In Ha pushes Dal Po’s hands aside while Bum Jo assists her outside to head to her station sweeps.
Yoo Rae chews out Dal Po for disappearing on her but Dal Po has only eyes for In Ha getting into Bum Jo and his mom’s fancy car. Yoo Rae is envious that In Ha has a chaebol heir for a partner while she gets Dal Po. They exchange notes on recent cases and Yoo Rae shares the update on the container fire. Turns out the suspect is the factory team leader who was an eyewitness in the factory fire case. Dal Po files that connection away.
In Ha worries that she can’t do her job during the station sweeps but Bum Jo’s mom assures her that she’ll look for tips for them tonight. Bum Jo’s mom goes to Han River police stations bringing presents to all the cops while demanding tips. She finds a drunken man sleeping on the bench and asks him for why he got drunk and in a fight? LOL. In Ha then calls in the news stories to MSC from the car and afterwards she thanks Bum Jo’s mom.
In Ha goes back to the police station but doesn’t enter the reporters lounge when she sees Dal Po sleeping inside. She goes to the bathroom and sits on a toilet while turning on the seat warmer function. Dal Po gets out of bed and runs into two cops discussing a female reporter sleeping in the toilet stall of the men’s room.
Dal Po rushes into the bathroom and drags In Ha out to go to the hospital. In Ha refuses and reveals the true reason she has been avoiding Dal Po – she thinks this isn’t an ordinary cold and she’s scared of infecting Dal Po. He yells at her for being an idiot before princess carrying her out of the bathroom.
In Ha admitted to the hospital and the doctor assures her that the illness isn’t contagious and marvels at how long she endured it. In Ha is just relieved it’s not contagious and grabs Dal Po’s coat bottom while sleep muttering if he’s there? Dal Po takes In Ha’s hand and strokes it to reassure her. Dal Po sits by her beside all night until he falls asleep as well. He gets woken up by In Ha murmuring that she has a lot to say to him. Dal Po tells her to go back to sleep and he’ll be there to listen to what she has to say when she’s all better.
In Ha finally wakes up feeling better and immediately notices that Dal Po is holding her hand. She slowly pulls her hand away and yells at it for being crazy. But then she curls up across from Dal Po to silently stare at his sleeping face. She can’t help but reach out her hand to stroke his hair which is when Dal Po wakes up.
In Ha immediately freaks out and rolls over the bed so fast she falls off. Ahahaha! In Ha then runs out of the hospital just like that without her coat or shoes on. Dal Po runs after her and finally gets her to stop outside the hospital. In Ha tells Dal Po that she discovered the truth about the gym ahjumma because she kept hiccupping when trying to report the story so her heart knew it wasn’t true. She went back to the hospital and finally saw the daughter and got the real story. It was because In Ha is a Pinocchio that got to the bottom of the real story.
Dal Po admits he was wrong and In Ha is right, apologizing to her while worriedly looking down at her feet getting colder and colder. In Ha yells that she’s not done yet and keeps yelling that Dal Po thinks he’s always right but in this case he’s wrong. She might not have the right to be a reporter but does Dal Po? He admits he doesn’t have a right either. In Ha claims she’s so happy that he suffered a defeat and admit he was wrong, which is when she starts hiccupping.
Dal Po knows she’s lying so In Ha admits she isn’t happy and has been worried about Dal Po. She was worried when he disappeared after the report and worried that he was angry at himself. She can’t believe she’s worried about her reporter competition and it makes her so tired. Dal Po kneels down to put her shoes on her before draping her coat over her. In Ha walks past him and he wants to reach out for her but holds himself back.
In Ha apologizes for always claiming she’s moved on from him and has resolved her feelings yet she still hasn’t. She can’t figure out what’s going on in her head! Dal Po finally gives in and back hugs In Ha while admitting that it’s so cold out that he doesn’t know what he’s thinking either.
Jae Myung goes to MSC and asks the parking attendants who the other reporter on the news banner next to Anchor Song Cha Ok is? He’s told that the other reporter is Cha Ok’s daughter which is why they look alike. Jae Myung stares at the poster intently, and HOMG hyung better not try to take out his anger on In Ha. The parking attendant thinks Jae Myung looks familiar for some reason.
In Ha returns to the police station bright and early, rested and bathed to the envy of Yoo Rae and the rest of the stinky disheveled crew. Dal Po wanders out and In Ha immediately tries to hide and sneak away because she’s so embarrassed by the hug still. Dal Po totally can see her scooching behind the wall and sighs.
Bum Jo and Dal Po walk together to the police office and Bum Jo brings up everyone’s curiosity about Dal Po and In Ha’s strange relationship. She calls him uncle yet he looks at her with warm affection in his eyes that isn’t like uncle-niece. Dal Po declares to Bum Jo that he likes In Ha as a woman, is that good enough an answer?
Dal Po goes to bother Chan Soo for updates on the container fire case and wonders if Chan Soo is looking for more suspects. Chan Soo claims it’s all dead ends so Dal Po goes back to the reporter lounge to write down all the phone numbers from the factory team leader’s cell phone before he disappeared. One number seems familiar to Dal Po and he inputs it in his phone and realizes it’s the guy he called about the truck repair. Dal Po calls the number again and asks to meet.
Dal Po calls Reporter Jang to report that he got a lead on the missing suspect in the container fire and is outside meeting with the someone who spoke to the guy before he disappeared. Reporter Jang gets hung up on before he can yell at Dal Po for acting like a police to investigate a lead himself.
Chan Soo gets a ping from the factory team leader’s cell phone which is currently at a shopping center. The cops move out to try and find him there.
PD Hwang secretly smiles and thinks to himself that Dal Po is finally showing potential. He flashes back to the rest of his advice to Dal Po about how to get over a major reporter mistake. He’ll have more challenges in the future. Eventually he’ll encounter a story so incredible to ponder and beyond anything he’s ever faced, he’ll be afraid of rendering any judgment or making decisions because he can change a person’s fate with how he reports. When that time comes Dal Po can ask his advice then.
Dal Po connects with Jae Myung and the brothers walk towards each other in the crowded shopping mall. Neither recognize each other at first but Dal Po’s steps start to slow as Jae Myung gets closer. Jae Myung walks up to Dal Po and tells him that he didn’t need to pay for the repair fee even though his friend accepted it already. Jae Myung introduces himself as Ki Jae Myung and Dal Po’s eyes widen to confirm this is indeed his hyung.
Dal Po composes himself and asks again what hyung’s name is and hears again that it’s Ki Jae Myung. Hyung offers his hand for a shake and asks for Dal Po’s name. Dal Po struggles internally before shaking hyung’s hand and giving his name as Choi Dal Po rather than his real name Ki Ha Myung. Hyung smiles warmly at Dal Po without realizing that Dal Po is his brother.
Thoughts of Mine:
Ugh Dal Po! Why didn’t you just reunite with hyung then and there? The man is already gone off the rails, you might’ve prevented him from doing whatever has crossed his mind after seeing Cha Ok on the news and finding out that her daughter In Ha also works as a reporter. Right now Jae Myung is a runaway train and Dal Po as his remaining family members if the only person that can stop him from pursuing even more revenge. I’m guessing the factory team leader is totally dead now after a few days at least of being buried alive in that hole. I think those men deserve punishment but it’s definitely not death, nor is it up to Jae Myung to dole out. Looks like Dal Po will figure out the connection between the container fire and Jae Myung sooner than the cops, and boy will that be like another knife to the gut. To see his only hyung cross the line and have to eventually pay the price as well is like destroying his real family yet another time over.
I found the gym death case made a bigger deal than it merits solely for the sake of a YGN/MSC showdown. I don’t even buy that Dal Po could have secretly recorded the CCTV and overlooked asking the family members for confirmation details before turning in the story. It felts more like he was set up narratively to stumble right out of the gate so that he would learn his limitations and some humility, that even someone with such strong principles can quickly lose sight of the bigger truth for the sake of the smaller daily tasks. I also don’t buy Dal Po slinking home ready to quit after one fail, not when he had more at stake in becoming a reporter beyond bringing the truth to the people. Plus Grandpa got him out of his funk with one bath and a few insightful pointer over dinner? Please. Holistically it worked though because it gave In Ha a much needed success and placed the two back on even ground again. I still find the reporting stuff rather underwhelming but the process is executed with deft touches of both humor and emotional payoff so overall the drama still has a solid grip on the core of its story.
In Ha and Dal Po didn’t make any significant inroads in this episode but did wash away the distance and awkwardness of the last two episodes. I’m glad they still mostly behave candidly when it comes to each other, whether it’s In Ha’s attempts to avoid Dal Po or the way he manned up to inform Bum Jo that he liked In Ha as a woman. The affection they have for each other remains tender with so much potential for passion down the road, bottled up tightly right now giving off this excitement of what might happen when either or both erupt. I appreciate Yoo Rae’s presence as an interesting side character without giving her the typical crush on the male lead, and Bum Jo’s interest in In Ha remains more concern and curiosity so he’s also not running the risk of being the clingy one-sided crush second male lead. His awe at learning how the real world works is amusing as is his doting mom and the way they approach menial tasks like clueless fairies stuck in the human world. The storytelling is the same way with moment of odd kilter surprises mixed with a charming understanding of how to emotionally rope in the audience.
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