Bubblegum 풍선껌 Episode 3
Ri Hwan challenges Suk Joon when they both end up in front of Haeng Ah’s apartment, but Suk Joon has no reason to back down. He confidently walks past Ri Hwan with birthday cake in tow, past the security guard, and gets on the elevator. Ri Hwan drives away. The score: 3-0. “There are nights when everything is ready to fall apart.” Moments swirl between the present and past around that blasted birthday cake incident. Suk Joon opens the cake, but alas, he is in his own apartment; the confidence he displayed in front of Ri Hwan dissolved into his usual no-action default. He never did get off at her floor.
Now alone in his apartment, Suk Joon’s memory is sparked by a roll of masking tape in the drawer to the time when Haeng Ah taped her hands playfully to get him to feed her like other dating couples. He is brusque and dismissive. She acts cute; he is embarrassed and annoyed. She overreacts to his slightest attention; he barely looks up and won’t be drawn in.
Ri Hwan’s thoughts drift to the night before Haeng Ah’s birthday back then when they relaxed with friends for drinks at a cafe. When he asks if she has birthday plans, she replies that she’ll probably have to work. Preoccupied with her phone, Haeng Ah receives an urgent text and, with a happy smile, announces she’s leaving. Ri Hwan comments that she’s leaving at this hour? Ji Hoon guesses that she has a new guy. On her way out she shouts, “It’s on me!” and pays the tab. Ri Hwan watches bleakly as Haeng Ah dances out of the cafe. She has things going on in her life that he doesn’t know about and isn’t a part of.
It’s late. Ri Hwan twists and turns on his couch; Haeng Ah curls up in her small apartment; Suk Joon is asleep sitting up in his living room- the uncut cake sits on the coffee table. Ri Hwan’s voice-over sums up the sparse truth, “That night, none of us had a good night’s sleep.”
Ji Hoon and Ri Hwan meet for hangover soup practically every day as a result of Ji Hoon’s drinking. Ri Hwan threatens to go to the bar and have his alcohol supply cut off. Ri Hwan is upset that Ji Hoon drinks despite complaints that his insides hurt. It is a repeat conversation that goes nowhere. Ji Hoon is a sentimental alcoholic to be sure and tells Ri Hwan that he likes the concern Ri Hwan shows for him, but he has no intention of doing away with his number one love: alcohol.
Haeng Ah fidgets nervously in front of the hospital. Aunt Mother calls and asks if she has arrived, but Haeng Ah lies and tells her not yet. She freezes in the lobby and backs out of the revolving door. Aunt Mother discusses Haeng Ah’s hospital phobia with another doctor, recalling that the onset was in high school after she witnessed a bloody accident and fainted. On top of that, both her parents were admitted to the hospital at different times and both died of stomach cancer before turning 40. Now that Haeng Ah is 33 and has a serious family medical history, Aunt Mother thinks it is time for Haeng Ah to get checked. The doctor asks if Haeng Ah has ever had counseling, but Aunt Mother says no, she doesn’t come to hospitals, period.
An old woman is brought in to see Ri Hwan for treatment. Her daughter moved her from the countryside where she lived all her life and now she feels cooped up in a city apartment. Although real, her pains are nothing compared to her aching heart that longs to return to the country. Yet, she doesn’t want to seem ungrateful to her daughter. Ri Hwan listen compassionately. Ri Hwan is equally attentive to a little girl who has stumbled and cut her leg. He listens as much as he prescribes. It is the nature of his Eastern medical practice.
Overbearing fashionable mother has called Yi Seul and her brother, Jung Woo, to lunch. As usual, she has nothing good to say to her daughter, picking at every little thing from her kankles to her eating habits. Always on his sister’s side, Jung Woo turns the conversation to her date, pleased to see Yi Seul so happy over it. When he asks who it is, Overbearing Mother fills in with the “it’s a good chance” details: he is the only grandson of the Se Hyung Foundation although he won’t inherit it since he went into Eastern medicine. Also, no one is saying who his father is. However, they won’t cause an issue over Si Yeul’s former engagement. Overbearing Mother rattles on uncontrollably, but when she advises Yi Seul not to call first and play it cool, Jung Woo counteracts and says, “Just go to him. Should I lend you the helicopter?” Yi Seul is already on it; she calls Ri Hwan and tells him she’d like to see him today if he has time. She’ll come to the Secret Garden (the name of his family’s restaurant). Touche.
As Haeng Ah debates whether or not to go into the hospital, she receives a call to come to the restaurant. (It is Uncle’s doing to get her and Ri Hwan there at the same time to make up after yesterday’s squabble.) The two of them sit across from each other on the patio. Ri Hwan is still under the impression that Suk Joon went to her apartment with the cake. He fishes for information asking, “Did you eat lots of cake?” Does he means the one in the freezer she wonders? “He didn’t come?” Is he asking about the security guard? He came to change the light bulb. “Really?” Ri Hwan puzzles over the new version of what happened (or didn’t) last night. Although Ri Hwan figures out that Suk Joon didn’t show up at her apartment after all, he doesn’t let her in on all that. They even bicker to apologize for bickering yesterday, each taking the blame in their own way. Aunt Princess interrupts them and tells Haeng Ah that Ri Hwan’s date is coming here to see him. Haeng Ah knows that she’s Hong Jung Woo’s little sister who she went to middle school with and fangirl’s over the tall, fair, and broad shouldered image of him in her mind. When Yi Seul joins them, Haeng Ah recognizes her as the dentist from the other day. Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah do the simultaneous “she’s my little sister/I’m his older sister” introduction. Ri Hwan jokingly says he’d love to kick her out, but the place belonged to her father. Now, Haeng Ah continues, it belongs to Aunt Princess and Uncle Gangster (I love their family nicknames). Haeng Ah cheerfully heads out, feeling that two’s company, three’s a crowd. But not before there is another one of those moments where who they are to each other is blurred when Ri Hwan pulls her close for some serious advice that she is talking too lightly.
Yi Seul looks at the wall of family pictures in the restaurant. Aunt Princess walks over and identifies who’s who: Ri Hwan and his mother, Haeng Ah and her parents. This one is the kids after graduation. Aunt explains that Haeng Ah’s mother died, no one knew she was that sick. The pictures tell the story of the blended families, not related, but raised as if they were. There’s a sweet flashback of school-aged Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah stuck together like gum as they run through the restaurant.
Ri Hwan and Yi Seul take a walk. She asks about his relationship with Haeng Ah and puts it into context saying, “She’s more like your friend, not a little sister.” Ri Hwan replies, “I guess so.” Ri Hwan stops for ice cream, but Yi Seul declines. She is self-conscious about her weight. When he teases that she’s grown in one day (height), she becomes even more self-conscious about the sparkly high heels she’s wearing. A passing biker causes her to topple over. Ri Hwan helps her to a bench, but when he wants to check her ankles, she freaks out (thanks to Overbearing Mother’s years of ridicule). Quick thinker Ri Hwan has her look in his mouth and diagnose a cavity as a dentist, and tells her that he is returning the favor by looking at her ankle as a doctor. That puts her at ease. While she waits, he brings a pair of sturdy ice fishing boots for her to walk in comfortably. When he tells her to stop in after work for acupuncture, she agrees.
After a radio station board meeting, Dong Il talks a mile a minute (radio guys don’t like dead air) to single-sentence Suk Joon. He asks after Haeng Ah, and Dong Il fills him in on the office dinner after work. Meanwhile, Haeng Ah and the radio broadcast team wrap up their meeting. Se Young and Tae Hee disagree on upcoming guests. They discuss non-celebrity options, people with a hidden surprise story. Joon Soo inadvertently suggests interviewing Kang Suk Joon, a person with a reputation for not sleeping, going to the bathroom or drinking alcohol. Above all, he never smiles. Tae Hee (who knows Suk Joon and Haeng Ah dated) redirects the conversation, but Se Young likes the idea, adding that she heard he was a gangster and even killed a dog with his bare hands. Haeng Ah chokes on her juice. Meeting’s over; as they head out to eat Haeng Ah tells them she’ll catch up in a bit.
Tae Hee steps back in the studio; she has something to say. As Haeng Ah’s friend, she wants to tear out the insides of Suk Joon, but then she sees Haeng Ah acting soft towards him again. What is she supposed to do when she wants to defend her friend and take out the guy who has hurt her, but Haeng Ah is sending mixed signals? Haeng Ah admits that she is conflicted and mad at herself. On the rooftop, he told her he can’t live without her, and she wants to believe those words, but she knows she is seriously stupid for even thinking he could mean it. Tae Hee is mad at her friend for hanging on to a guy like him. There’s nothing she can do, but she tells Haeng Ah not to drink tonight. Haeng Ah agrees she shouldn’t. After compiling a list of songs titled “Stupid” as the evening’s playlist theme. Haeng Ah joins the others at the restaurant.
Yi Seul stops by Ri Hwan’s clinic for acupuncture. She asks if he travels much since his wall is covered with maps and guidebooks. Although he’s never been out of the country, he reads up for when the time comes, he tells her. They’re interrupted by a call from a very drunk Ji Hoon who acts like he’s crying to get Ri Hwan to join them. By the time Haeng Ah shows up, everyone – her team, Dong Il, Ji Hoon, Ri Hwan, and Yi Seul – is merrily eating and drinking. Tae Hee keeps an eye on her to make sure she doesn’t drink. After a long evening, it is a sober Haeng Ah who makes sure everyone safely gets a taxi home. The last ones off is sloppy drunk Ji Hoon who is accompanied by Ri Hwan and Yi Seul to take care of him. As their taxi pulls away, Ri Hwan hangs out the window to make sure Haeng Ah promises to take the very next taxi home; he feels burdened that she is left alone and would go with her except for Ji Hoon’s bad condition.
Haeng Ah waves them off, but instead goes right back into the bar. She has some catching up to do in the drinking department. She emerges hours later having properly drowned her sorrows with nobody to stop her. She weaves her way down the street, in and out of stores, and tops off the evening with a grapefruit smoothie. She decides, however, that since she doesn’t like it, she will make a call to Yi Seul whose family owns the stores and complain to her in person. We get a glimpse of the Hong family’s wealth as Yi Seul pulls up to a grande estate. It is apparent why Tae Hee insisted on Haeng Ah not drinking – she makes a pitifully messy drunk. Yi Seul figures out where Haeng Ah is by asking her where she bought the smoothie and goes to her.
It a few minutes, Ri Hwan also shows up, but an embarrassed Haeng Ah runs into the convenience store to avoid him. In the middle of making a scene, Ri Hwan rolls Haeng Ah onto his back and hauls her away mumbling that she’s that crazy family member who got out by mistake. He knows too well just how bad she gets when she drinks. Before Ri Hwan can get her home, Haeng Ah dumps a sea cucumber in Yi Seul’s very expensive bag as a gift. “One for me and one for you. Let’s raise them well. One each.” Then she hops in a taxi. Ri Hwan needs to go after her, but also needs to fix the mess with Yi Seul.
Haeng Ah gets dropped off at the station and passes out cold on her desk. Workaholic Suk Joon notices the light on and, seeing her, sits by her side just looking at her. Her phone rings. He picks it up. Ri Hwan starts talking, thinking she’s on the other end. He almost called the cops he tells her. Why is she at work? She should go go home after drinking. Come down now. He’s in front. He is shocked when it is Suk Joon who coolly tells him to talk to her later. “Haeng Ah is sleeping next to me.” (Laughing out loud as Suk Joon takes the phone battery out of her phone. It’s been a while since I’ve seen that kdrama feature, kinda glad it isn’t completely gone for old times’ sake.) We can guess what Ri Hwan imagines as he dashes into the building, only to be stopped by security. He argues with the guard who tells him to leave. When the elevator opens, Ri Hwan leaps over the barricade and jumps into the elevator before he can be stopped.
Haeng Ah groggily opens her eyes. She is startled to see Suk Joon there. Ri Hwan runs into the studio and gets a glimpse of Haeng Ah as Suk Joon deliberately shuts and locks the door. Ri Hwan pounds on the glass frantically yelling her name as Suk Joon moves in closer to Haeng Ah.
Ri Hwan is a madman. He bashes the alarm in the hallway with his shoulder, then grabs a fire extinguishes and shatters it. Haeng Ah opens the door at the sounding alarm and a ballistic Ri Hwan shoves past her and throws a punch at Suk Joon. “Doesn’t matter if I’m an older brother or not, it just can’t be you, you bastard.” Count: 3-1.
Flashback: Little Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah buy two fish at the pet store. They are as passionate in their bickering and making up then as they are now. When they fight over the fish, Father tells them to take care of one each. The two fish are in one tank as they play house; Ri Hwan takes on the role of staying home while Haeng Ah goes to work. They argue about who is responsible for taking care of the fish. Father comes in and tells them to wait four weeks. What does he mean, they wonder?
- Whether it is as a brother or other, Ri Hwan finally steps up to protect Haeng Ah from someone who has treated her badly. Now we’re getting somewhere. Their families have blended for so long that terms like aunt, mother, father, uncle, sister, brother extend beyond their familiar meanings. Others see the blurred lines of those relationships (Yi Seul points out to Ri Hwan that Haeng Ah is more like a friend) far more clearly than those directly involved. At the same time, the love that the extended family shows one another is an endearing aspect that Yi Seul notices.
- I love RI Hwan’s caring nature. It comes through at work, but also in other situations. Anyhow, an angry Dong Wook is sexy.
- Haeng Ah’s conflicting emotions are totally believable; who wouldn’t want to hang onto a hopeful interpretation of the words of a lover? On the other hand, she hates that she is acting in a way that would drive her crazy if it was someone else doing it. At least she half listens to Tae Hee, her voice of reason. (What’s with Tae Hee and Ji Hoon, by the way? We’re given hints that they had a past, or is she avoiding a possible future?)
- Mysterious Suk Joon is an intriguing guy; he is slightly scary, but I like him all the same. Up until now, he hasn’t been much or a risk taker in the relationship department. Will he be able change in order to hang onto Haeng Ah?
- I am worried about Haeng Ah’s health now that Aunt Mother has brought her history up to the doctor. I sense an undertone of crisis ahead in that regard.
- I am pleased with the pace and content of this drama. The acting is superb all around. It is all working for me.
- Did I miss anything? What do you love/hate about this kdrama so far? Weigh in with your thoughts!