Nana and Jong Ok arrived at the premiere of Granny’s Got Talent to honor veteran actress Kim Soo Mi. (Except isn’t that Hong Jong Hyun on the star platform, too, the actor with whom Nana is “just friends?”) Apparently, her foul-mouthed role is not too far from her spicy personality. Soo Mi was geared up to visit the Roommate household and teach them how to cook.
Min Woo, Ryohei, and Sunny were bored. It’s been a long time since Min Woo hung around the roommate crowd, and it was good to see him yuck it up with the gang. Like a middle school prankster, Ryohei put a fake cockroach on his leg and scared Min Woo senseless. Of course, once is never enough, and as much as it scared him, Min Woo couldn’t wait for Ryohei to do the same to the next victim, Jackson. Sure to make immature guys everywhere proud, Ryohei waited for Jackson to spot the roach on his leg (Min Woo squirmed and grinned from ear to ear and tapped Ryohei’s leg as if to say, “Does he see it? Does he see it, yet? Does he see it, now?” Success! Jackson jumped across the room enough to satisfy our pranksters. Cheap entertainment-it’s worth every cent. Look at that adorable Min Woo smile we’ve missed for so long. Ryohei was mysteriously handsome, as well. Our roommates must be getting more rest these days.
Jong Ok told guest Kim Soo Mi that they would pick her up. Ryohei tried his hand at driving in Korea for the first time. Jackson and Jong Ok went along. With a big grin, Ryohei leaned over his shoulder and warned Jackson to hold on tight (“Why isn’t the car moving forward?” he joked.) On the way, Jong Ok briefed the guys on Soo Mi’s long-running acting career. She starred in Country Diaries, a popular drama that ran weekly for 22 years (1980-2002). After a round of quick introductions, Soo Mi scolded Ryohei for making her wait for 30 minutes, ordered them to load up the car with the many side dishes she’d prepared, and told Jackson he was a little punk for calling her nuna (“Nuna, my butt”) and not oma. She’s one tough cookie and they’d better get her preferences right and not screw around. It was difficult to tell if she was joking or hardcore annoyed, but I think she must respond the same either way. Of course, Jackson won her over with his feigned ignorance as he buttered her up and charmed her with his manners. When Jong Ok told her she was nuna to everyone at the household and loved it, Soo Mi warmed up to the idea and let them call her nuna, too. She ate up every bit of the attention they lavished on her all the way home.
Gook Ju prepared to plant the famous pepper selection in box planters in the backyard. Who could be a better assistant than Modern Farmer, Min Woo? What, no cabbages? Gook Ju insisted on hauling the bags of fertilizer and dirt while Min Woo and Youngji planted the seeds. Dong Wook appeared at the window, crabby that his slippers were missing again. Does eveyone just toss the pairs that are his in the trash, he yelled at no one in particular? He can be such an old man, sometimes.
Hail, hail, the gang’s all here (well, almost). They gave today’s guest a cheerful welcome before asking her to curse (her trademark as the feisty grandmother). She willingly obliged, to everyone’s delight. It was amazing how much food she prepared, complete with brass bowls-a must for authentic Korean cuisine. She was up at dawn cooking many side dishes with TLC. The table was gorgeous and included seasoned crabs, kimchi, a Japanese dish, rice, ribs – all those tempting dishes made my mouth water. They said a lovely prayer of thanks for the abundant food and ended with a chorus of “Amens.” It looked like the most fabulous feast, wish I could have tasted it. Soo Mi gave secret tips for Korean cooking as they ate. She learned how to cook by hand and taste while watching over her her mother’s shoulder as a young girl.
The atmosphere was lively and the home cooked dishes were thoroughly appreciated; they could have their own Let’s Eat show. With plenty of hands to help clean-up the dishes, Jackson and Soo Mi nuna relaxed on the swing in the yard. He seemed genuinely affectionate toward her and she adored the attention. She reminded him in no uncertain terms to be good to his parents and call every other day. However, the conversation went a bit south when Soo Mi told Jackson that she and her husband hadn’t kissed in 20 years. For once, Jackson was speechless and seemed a tad awkward. Who knows if she was joking with that deadpan face and voice?
That was just lunch. It was time to go grocery shopping for dinner. Soo Mi had a list of the things she needed to pick up. She promised Jong Ok and Nana she would teach them a thing or two in the kitchen, and she meant to keep her word. Jackson, Ryohei, and Dong Wook accompanied her like good sons. Jackson invited himself to Soo Mi’s for her home cooked food that was better than any restaurant, and she told him he was welcome, but he had to give her notice. When he said, “Make reservations?” Dong Wook got the biggest kick out of baby Jackson, as usual. The women at the market immediately recognized Kim Soo Mi. She introduced Jackson as her youngest son, but truth be told, they were more interested in her. She wanted to choose something to wear for throwing out the first pitch at the baseball opening match, and selected a traditional pair of grandmother pants for the occasion. (The picture they flashed of Jo In Sung was in reference to her role in Something Happened in Bali. Soo Mi played the mother of Jae-Min, Jo In Sung’s character, in the famous kdrama.)
It was all business as she bought the right amounts of garlic this and mushrooms that. After all, she was going to be cooking for a large crowd. Dong Wook just laughed again when she sent them to buy 20 eggs. Shopping with her sons was over and it was time to go home. Jackson took her into a cosmetics store to look around. While she asked about lotions, Jackson slyly (or so he thought) picked out a lipstick as a gift for her. The ever-so-good-looking cosmetics specialist helped Jackson select just the right shade that said ^^springtime^^ before Soo Mi wandered over and asked who he was buying that for. In a playful exchange, he said it was for someone who has been good to him. “Who?” she asked. There was more dodging the question. Soo Mi asked if he bought it for her. Of course, in the end, she was pleased with Jackson’s thoughtfulness and even admired the color he’d selected. They were both all smiles.
It was serious kitchen time. Jong Ok was her under study and number one assistant. Butcher knife, filet, do it like this, stir with chopsticks – it was like a cooking class. Dong Wook was amused that Jong Ok really didn’t know anything about cooking. Oh, and the radish kimchi Jong Ok made, Soo Mi said to throw it out. Youngji performed that dance again, and the kitchen help stopped their hard work to join in. What a healthy and beautiful spread their efforts produced along with a full table of people to make the food taste its best. It was very cool to hear that Soo Mi has it written in her contracts that proper meals be served on set.
She shared the story of her difficult road as a young woman to finding her way, but now enjoys the honor of national actress. It was time to take it slow after dinner and sip Sangria that Sunny and Nana made. Soo Mi got a call from a friend and invited her to stop by. She told Seho it was someone she matched him up with, and to look forward to it. Seho was hopeful. Soo Mi suggested taking turns sharing what was on their minds. Frank talk, she called it. Did I imagine it, or did Min Woo flinch and look away at the suggestion? It seemed as if Soo Mi wanted to share advice and wisdom that can only come from age and experience. Seho talked about losing his grandmother just last week. He said it was the first time he saw his mother cry so much, and realized that he should take better care of his mother.
Soo Mi had a cherished book of selected philosophical phrases, Myeong Sim Bo Gam, and shared some meaningful passages. “Refrain that momentary anger. If you could refrain your momentary anger you’ll be free from 100 days’ worth of worry.” Dong Wook immediately said he thought that passage was for him. I thought for sure it was going to be a kumbaya moment, but then Joon Hyung read a different passage and broke the mood. Min Woo couldn’t stop laughing.
Actress Byun Jung Soo stopped by to meet up with Soo Mi and Jong Ok. Poor Seho realized that Soo Mi was joking when she said she had a match for him (Byun Jung Soo is married). The three women friends went to Jong Ok’s room to talk.
What’s Jackson up to now? He called Sunny to his room and they put on animal face masks to mess around and scare everyone. Sunny was a cute panda and Jackson, a dragon. Green is not his color. After a long day, the guests departed. Kim Soo Mi brought a mother’s warmth to the roommate household.
To Dong Wook: When was your last kiss?” He drank the spoon of vinegar for punishment.
To Ryohei: “Is there anyone you’re attracted to here, Ryohei?” He drank the spoon of vinegar for punishment.
To Gook Ju: “What’s the most food you’ve ever had in one sitting? 11 bottles of soju. (Yikes!)
To Youngji: “Would you go out with Jackson if he asked you?” Continuous silent laughter.