A few weeks away from recapping Pinocchio only heightens my appreciation for how thoughtful this drama is in having a meaningful execution of the main conflicts. In so many ways, the romance is one of the sweetest I’ve watched, yet it unfortunately resides on the sidelines now because the righteous reporting narrative is just that compelling. It’s nothing to complain about since so often dramas fail to develop an intelligent story line aside from the kissy kissy cuteness. In Pinocchio I also continue to feel confident that Ha Myung and In Ha will overcome all obstacles to make it work, they love each other above and beyond mere manufactured attraction.
With Jae Myung tucked away in jail for the last few episodes, there was a noticeable slack in intensity but that’s all back as Bum Jo steps up finally as the second male lead with his own tormented baggage. I’m slowly coming around to the story deciding to paint Bum Jo’s mom and In Ha’s mom as co-conspirators in greater conspiracy, rather than having Cha Ok’s transgressions be of the negligent and self-serving variety. In the end the mothers have created a deeper quagmire for the kids to overcome and Bum Jo especially has blossomed in his growth from sheltered rich kid to the kind of reporter that Ha Myung is striving to become. If Ha Myung had to personally turn his own hyung in, soon it’ll be time for Bum Jo to bring Mommy Dearest down.
Episode 16 recap:
Ha Myung can no longer pretend that things are over between him and In Ha. He pulls her in for a longing kiss before pulling apart to ask her not to keep apologizing and feeling guilty. He doesn’t see her as Song Cha Ok’s daughter, she’s just In Ha to him. In Ha calls him Dal Po before correcting herself to call him Ha Myung but he tells her that she can call him Dal Po if she wants. He tried hard and did everything he could to end things between them but things remain the same to him. Even with her mom and his hyung between them, he can’t let her go.
In Ha gets on her tiptoes to silence Ha Myung with her own kiss and also confirm that she feels the same way about him. They smile warmly at each other.
Ha Myung can’t get a taxi this late while on a side street so offers to take In Ha to his place. She immediately shrinks back and says no while he wonders if she’s thinking weird things? He just wanted to treat her injured foot and if he saw an injured cat on the street he would take it home as well. In Ha insists she’ll only stay 5 minutes and Ha Myung hoists her on his back and laughs that 5 minutes is more than he needs.
In Ha watches as Ha Myung bandages her injured feet before he finishes with a voila and shows her that he only used less than 5 minutes on the timer he set. They are heading to the door for Ha Myung to take In Ha home when the doorbell rings with Dad and Grandpa on the other side bringing groceries over.
In Ha naturally freaks out while Ha Myung wants to come clean to the elders. She insists that’s a terrible idea, under the circumstances they would jump to conclusions so they need to find a different time to have that conversation.
Ha Myung lets the elders in with In Ha hiding in the closet and Dad wondering if someone was with Ha Myung since he thought there was conversation coming from inside the apartment. Ha Myung claims he was alone which is when In Ha starts hiccupping so Ha Myung coughs loudly to cover it over before turning on the music. Dad puts the groceries away in the fridge before calling Grandpa to head home before it gets too late.
Dad notices a long strand of hair on the ground and gives Ha Myung a knowing look before trudging out behind Grandpa. Ha Myung lets out a sigh of relief and rushes to open the closet only to find In Ha sleeping soundly inside.
Ha Myung carries In Ha to bed and tucks her in before staring his fill at her sleeping visage.
In Ha wakes up and naturally freaks out to discover that she spent the night at Ha Myung’s place. She is about to make a surreptitious escape when Ha Myung comes out of the bathroom and insists that she wash up and have breakfast since she’s already spent the night. He saunters over to the fridge to grab some eggs which leads In Ha to wonder why he’s so nonchalant about last night. Ha Myung points out that he lived with In Ha for 13 years so he’s used to this.
After In Ha heads to the bathroom to wash up is when Ha Myung lets go of his cool façade and takes deep breaths to calm himself down. So cute!
Dad reveals to Grandpa over breakfast that Ha Myung might have a girlfriend after he saw a strand of long hair on the ground. Grandpa wonders what kind of girl he’s dating but Dad is more incensed that he brought a girl to the apartment so soon after his breakup (with In Ha). Grandpa gives Ha Myung a pass since he’s young and hot blooded and chastises Dad’s conservative attitude since he’s divorced himself which gets Dad to pipe down.
In Ha comes out of the bathroom to find breakfast a tad underwhelming so hikes up her sleeves to make a few more dishes with Ha Myung in tow much like a newlywed couple. They smile at each other over the proper spread and head back out to the living room to dig in. In Ha passes by the picture of Ha Myung with hyung Jae Myung which immediately puts a damper on her mood.
In Ha asks when Ha Myung took a picture with his hyung and hears that it was on the day Jae Myung turned himself in. She tries to act nonchalant but her hiccups give away that something is bothering her.
Ha Myung finally asks In Ha as they walk to work what is bothering her. In Ha confesses that she still doesn’t feel confident that things can work between them, what with guilt and her mom still looming over them. She can’t abandon her mom to be with Ha Myung nor can she give up Ha Myung either. She asks Ha Myung to wait for her, wait for the day her mom can apologize to the Ki brothers and they can be together openly. Ha Myung points out that In Ha has stopped hiccupping after saying this and agrees to take their time.
In Ha runs into Bum Jo at the police station and happily shares the news that Ha Myung found the contents of the black box. She raises her hand for her usual high five but Bum Jo puts her hands in his pockets and coolly walks away while thinking of how he sent Ha Myung to find In Ha last night and once again seeing In Ha all chipper this morning proves only Ha Myung can make her happy.
Ha Myung is walking with PD Hwang outside the network when they encounter Cha Ok stepping out of her car. PD Hwang awesomely starts speaking loudly for Cha Ok to hear that Ha Myung found the black box and the contents will be handed over to the police who will now reinvestigate the cause of the fire. Cha Ok walks up to greet PD Hwang and reveals that she doesn’t care they have the exclusive on the black box because she doesn’t believe that’s enough to defeat her. Cha Ok walks into MSC and deletes more of her message logs on her cell phone on the way.
PD Hwang and Ha Myung encounter Yoo Rae in the hallway and she immediately starts humming a tune about being a spurned woman. Ha Myung is so confused and PD Hwang muses that Ha Myung must have done something to upset Yoo Rae.
They find Reporter Jang practicing his Russian at his desk and hear that the network is planning to send three reporters from their department to cover the Sochi Winter Olympics and he’s working hard to be one of the three chosen.
In Ha also hears from Reporter Kim that MSC is sending six reporters to cover Sochi and she immediately asks if the coverage of the waste treatment plant fire will be brushed under the rug to cover the flashier Olympics? Cha Ok walks by and gives In Ha a pointed look.
PD Hwang goes to the Chief to demand that none of his reporters be sent to Sochi because they have this big fire case to cover at home. Chief insists that YGN has done enough to find the black box and has now handed it over to the cops so their job is done. The public is also interested in the Olympics and he’s only sending three reporters compared to MSC sending six from their social news department. PD Hwang insists that this coverage will be forgotten once the Olympics starts and Ha Myung stands outside the office listening to this conversation.
Ha Myung walks by the large screen TV in the news room and sees a scrolling feed of the latest news and knows that people will quickly forget the old news for whatever new events happen. By the time the truth comes out the news is no longer of interest to the public and that is the cold hard reality. Ha Myung morphs into his teenage self and clenches his hands into a fist as he feels useless still, like he has no power to make a difference.
In Ha sits down across from Cha Ok and asks for her help to fix the report. With the black box there is now evidence that Cha Ok’s reporting was a lie. Cha Ok insists it’s not a lie since she didn’t know the video she got was edited, all she did was make a mistake. In Ha wants Cha Ok to correct her mistake rather than ignore it. Cha Ok claims that In Ha has the black box now and soon the real perps will be found and brought to justice. In Ha insists that’s not enough because the first erroneous reporting will still be all the public remembers as the case fades from interest.
The same thing happened 13 years ago and is now happening with Chan Soo. Cha Ok insists that is just In Ha’s conjecture but In Ha won’t let it go because it concerns the person she loves. She loves Ha Myung/Dal Po very much and that is why she needs her mom to sincerely apologize to him. Bum Jo is dining nearby with Reporter Lee who marvels at the complication of In Ha liking Ki Ha Myung who is at odds with her own mother Cha Ok.
In Ha pays a visit to the memorial hall where one of victims of the waste treatment plant fire is being mourned. She sees Ha Myung’s signature on the book before her and sees him paying his respects to the deceased and his family. The widow cries to Ha Myung that she doesn’t even know who to hold responsible for this tragedy.
In Ha and Ha Myung sit down to talk about their mutual worry that this tragedy will be forgotten once the Olympics coverage begins. Ha Myung gets a text from the restaurant confirming a YGN gathering dinner tonight and In Ha is surprised to hear that it’s the same restaurant where the MSC team is meeting.
The two rival networks glare at each other to be dining at the same place and Reporter Jang hisses at the restaurant owner to give them a discount for once again double booking. The two groups sit down and both sides wonder where In Ha and Ha Myung are, respectively, which is when they walk in together.
The MSC team start gossiping with Reporter Lee teasing to Bum Jo that the two star-crossed lovers look good together. Reporter Kim wonders who Ha Myung is and hears that he’s Ki Jae Myung’s younger brother and works for YGN.
The YGN team start talking about coverage of the Sochi Olympics and Reporter Jang loudly proclaims that he’s suited for extreme cold weather and isn’t bothered by jet lag LOL. The MSC chief loudly toasts their team to direct their coverage to the upcoming Olympics and bring happiness to the viewing audience.
In Ha is the only one who doesn’t toast and is asked why she’s so down and also dressed a;; in in black. In Ha explains that she just came from a funeral for the 17th victim of the fire, an event that no news outlet went to report. Reporter Lee tells In Ha that it’s good at least she went but she doesn’t feel that way. She wasn’t able to give the family any answers when asked who is responsible for the tragedy so what did she do that was right?
PD Hwang speaks up from the other table to support In Ha, there is nothing to feel good about since this news is already starting to fade from memory. Cha Ok claims that’s normal and fine as people don’t want to hear depressing news so it’s not good for the reporters to keep reporting on this. Yoo Rae coughs loudly “bullshit!” which gets a thumbs up from PD Hwang. In Ha counters that the people need to told the important news but Cha Ok doesn’t think so, the people can’t be forced to watch news that In Ha determines is important. That elicits another loud cough from Yoo Rae.
PD Hwang loudly asks his YGN chief what kind of news he wants to hear as a member of the public. Chief wants to hear the kind of news that he likes which gets a resounding cheer from the MSC chief. Ha Myung suddenly tells Reporter Jang that he has good and bad news to share with him, which one does he want to hear first.
Reporter Jang wants the good news so Ha Myung reveals that another reporter got tickets for a big Hallyu concert coming up. Reporter Jang is so giddy about the opportunity and then asks what the bad news is? Ha Myung says the bad news is that Reporter Jang’s physical is out and he has cancer. The entire table grows silent and Reporter Jang wonders why Ha Myung didn’t tell him that first. Ha Myung explains that Reporter Jang wanted the happy news first, right? Reporter Jang cries over being totally screwed with by Ha Myung but Chief sighs that they were the ones who was taught a lesson today.
Chief sits in his office looking at all the newspapers and TV reports splashed with coverage over the Sochi Olympics. He makes up his mind and calls a report to shelve their Olympics coverage and focus all their attention on the investigation into the waste treatment plant fire, from any violations to connections with political figures. They turn around to see Reporter Jang fake speed skating by his desk and decide to stick Reporter Jang to cover the fire specifically.
Reporter Jang puts on his Russian furry hat and totally blames Ha Myung for him not being sent to the Olympics as now he has to go station himself outside the investigation headquarters. PD Hwang assigns the rookies to cover other aspects of the cast.
Reporter Jang runs into the MSC duo outside the network and hear that they are preparing to head to Sochi while they are going to the local police station. Reporter Jang takes out his frustration on Reporter Lee and decides that Ha Myung is right and now he doesn’t want to go to Sochi anymore! He gives his partner a high five leaving Reporter Lee even more lovelorn.
All the networks start reporting on the Sochi Olympics except for YGN as Chief starts off the news report with coverage on the fire investigation. He believes the news has responsibility to report on who is responsible for the fire and starts reporting on how unidentified waste material caused the fire which killed and injured forty people. The black box footage of tens of waste trucks secretly arriving at the plant is broadcast and the cops watching the news buckle up to focus on their investigation.
Chan Soo and Ji Hee watch the news reporting that exonerates him for the cause of the fire, the real cause is the trucks entering the plant two hours after he went to investigate the small butane fire. The report focuses on Congressman Kim’s connection with the waste treatment plant and how he may end his political career over this. Bum Jo watches the news and seems to recognize the Congressman.
Bum Jo’s mom angrily turns off the news before answering a call from the irate Congressman. She assures him that she’s doing all she can to stop this coverage before ending the call and throwing her cell phone on the ground. She rails over YGN reporting on this rather than the Olympics and blames them for ruining one of her congressman. Chief finishes his report on how the people want to be happy about the Olympics but this news is very important to the people affected by the tragedy and society at large so they have a duty to report on it.
Ha Myung stands outside the burned out waste treatment plant and remembers the coverage of the fire from 13 years ago. Little Ha Myung shows up and wishes the same reporting happened back then to help their dad and family. He used to hate reporters but feels comforted that adult Ha Myung became a reporter to do the right thing. He wonders if it’s all over now but adult Ha Myung explains it’s not over yet because there is a lot more questions he needs answered.
In Ha tries to hide from Ha Myung at the police station because she’s embarrassed over how her network did nothing while his network dug into the fire coverage in depth. Ha Myung pinches her lips shut with a smile and doesn’t want to hear her apologize again.
In Ha is at the family of a speed skater going for a medal and their happiness turns to despair when he falls out of contention. The reporters quietly file out after the loss so as to not compound their sadness.
The rookies are all in the reporter’s lounge at the police station when Chan Soo arrives with his family bearing orange gifts for clearing his name. Yoo Rae wants little Chan Soo to offer the orange not to In Ha’s MSC since it was YGN that took the lead to clear Chan Soo’s name. Ha Myung speaks up for In Ha since YGN has a good chief leading them so what MSC did is not In Ha’s fault. Yoo Rae huffs out of there angry that Ha Myung keeps taking In Ha’s side. Chan Soo and Ji Hee explain that they are also grateful to YGN, especially Bum Jo for his effort in helping them.
Bum Jo is driving to confront his mom with the memory of the reporting 13 years ago that targeted Ha Myung’s dad rather than digging into the real cause for the factory fire. Bum Jo finds Mom about to head out and she warmly welcomes him home. Bum Jo is all serious with Mom and immediately asks if she met with Cha Ok 13 years ago after the factory fire? There are too many similarities between the two cases, especially with Cha Ok taking the lead both times to point the finger and attention on an innocent person.
Bum Jo also knows Mom is close with Congressman Kim who is involved in this case, he believes that Mom, Cha Ok, and Congressman Kim are all connected to this case. Mom turns cold and reminds Bum Jo not to speak with her as a reporter before driving off. She places a call to Cha Ok to erase any evidence that can connect them now that Congressman Kim is under investigation and even her son is asking about 13 years ago.
Reporter Lee notices Cha Ok opening her desk to look for something and chats with Reporter Kim about how Cha Ok seems to be forgetful lately and losing things. Bum Jo overhears and heads to Cha Ok’s desk only to follow her to the copy machine where Cha Ok casually asks if In Ha took her old cell phone. In Ha lies that she took it, rather than Bum Jo handing it to her, because she was curious about the old texts she sent. Cha Ok asks for it back tomorrow.
After Cha Ok walks away, Bum Jo asks In Ha for the old cell phone back and In Ha wonders why both Bum Jo and Cha Ok are suddenly both interested in the phone. Bum Jo reveals that the two fire cases are very similar and he wonders if Cha Ok and his Mom are connected both times and evidence may reside in the old cell phone.
In Ha goes home and looks through the cell phone and remembers Bum Jo telling her that it’s weird the phone only has texts from In Ha and nothing else. There should be other texts if Cha Ok used the phone which means she intentionally erased the other texts. In Ha takes the phone to a data recovery specialist to pull up the deleted messages and hears that it’s easy to pull up deleted messages from old phones like this. The analysts asks that the request must be made by the person who registered the phone so In Ha has no choice but to call Bum Jo there to submit the requisition.
Ha Myung reports on the latest news coverage of the fire to Jae Myung and he taps the screen to tease little bro about being less stiff onscreen when he’s reporting. Jae Myung then shares his comfort that Ha Myung became a reporter because he trusts that Ha Myung’s warm heart and clear mind will be an asset to the world. It’s also what makes him different than Cha Ok.
In Ha gets a call from the data recovery analysts who pulled up the deleted messages and emailed the findings over already. In Ha runs to the reporter’s lounge to find Bum Jo already reading the email with the texts. In Ha is shocked to see so many deleted messages and all with a “Chairman” and wonders who that person is? Bum Jo confirms that “Chairman” refers to his Mom and the number was her old number.
In Ha and Bum Jo read in growing horror the messages from Bum Jo’s mom ordering Cha Ok to turn Ha Myung’s dad into a hated public figure and use the Pinocchio eyewitness testimony to bolster the reporting. Both kids start to cry at the confirmation of the intentional wrongdoing their mothers orchestrated.
Thoughts of Mine:
This drama is so good at bringing the laughter and hurt in successive waves so that neither overwhelms the other. Same goes with building up the tension from the conflict and reveals, it was already strongly hinted at that Cha Ok was taking orders from Bum Jo’s mom to orchestrate the news smearing campaigns to cover up for the real culprits, but seeing the way their two kids found out via the restored text messages was still an effective punch in the gut. For so long Ha Myung was dealing with angst beyond what the other main characters had to shoulder, now In Ha and Bum Jo can join his ranks of emotional suffering in reconciling a loved one crossing the line so decisively. I love Jae Myung hyung not just because he’s such a charismatic intense character or because I excuse his actions, what makes him a character I support is the way he accepts the punishment for his own transgressions which gives him the right to continue to push for the truth on other issues. He’s not faultless but he is trying to overcome, whereas Bum Jo’s mom and Cha Ok are just rolling waves of unrepentant nefariousness.
I don’t even care of Cha Ok was coerced into it or felt some compelling need to submit to a more powerful authority, at a certain point her reasons are no longer justified for the continued and repeated wrongdoing. I feel for In Ha but the redemption of Cha Ok is a plot line I personally do not want to see even if it’ll give In Ha back a mom. Same goes for Bum Jo, having a nice mom around is not an excuse for her misdeeds to be forgiven in the end. I’ve been waiting for Bum Jo to really factor into the drama as more than just In Ha’s sweet confidante and reporting partner, his crush on her really had zilch impact since it was headed nowhere from the very beginning. His biggest emotional thread in life has always been his odd friendly affection with his rich mom and now that foundation is shaken to the core and it’s going to make him so much more interesting a character. I also want Bum Jo to become a real reporter the way In Ha and Ha Myung are striving to be, it’s a profession that has awakened him to the injustice and realities of the world outside his cloistered existence and he has the means to do that job effectively if his heart is in it.
It’s reassuring to see Ha Myung continue his growth as a reporter who stands by his principles in reporting, even if he always seems to know the right thing to do even above some of his sunbaes and that’s not always realistic. In Ha also faces so much opposition at MSC and one wonders why Cha Ok and the Chief over there continue to get away with doing the bidding of the more powerful without the rank and file revolting. I was wondering when the drama would connect the timeline of seeing the present in late 2013/early 2014 and having the Sochi Olympics come into play was brilliant. The event does represent a world moment of using sports to promote happy news and a national collective rah rah moment. It also allowed the story to discuss the reporting priorities of news organizations and what to devote time covering vis-à-vis what the public actually prefers to hear. YGN continues to run with the hard hitting exposes, even if Ha Myung needed to hammer home the point, while MSC fumbles yet another responsibility behind Cha Ok’s malfeasance. It’s time for the baddies to really get their due and hopefully the tides have finally turned now that the dirty laundry is being aired.
Click here to watch Pinocchio.