Bubblegum 풍선껌 Episode 6
[Some Dreams Pass Deeply Into Reality]
Haeng Ah tells Ri Hwan that she will give it some thought – the like thing. But if they really did like each other, just sayin’, what would they do, date? Can lovers argue like siblings? Cause it sure sounds like a continuation of their sibling-style conversation where he says what he wants and she answers however. She asks if he is going to lecture her if they date. He changes his tune and asks her what she would like to eat the way a boyfriend would. They do date-like things: playfully feed each other street food; he acts all chivalrous and gives her his coat – she reciprocates and buttons her jumper on him; he smudges her face cutely and calls out for her to catch him as he runs away; she makes a smudged cat face on him; they wear sparkly hair clips.
Ri Hwan stops dead in his tracks with his mouth open: “MOTEL” is practically written in the sky, its neon letters calling out to him. If they were dating, then they’d probably go to places like this, he tells her, swallowing hard. She scurries off; he follows her with a longing glance at the sign over his shoulder. The evening ends under a lit fountain. It’s nice, she says. “I told you it would be nice,” he replies.
Few words are needed as they enjoy this new feeling on the ride home. For him, there is no going back. He wants her to feel the same way. When he drops her off she is ready to go in herself. He won’t leave, though. He has to come in to get the kimchi container (nice excuse). They go up together. It’s kimchi-making time with Aunt Princess and Uncle in a few days. She tells him to invite Ji Hoon since Tae Hee will be there. Ri Hwan fusses over making ramen. Haeng Ah says she won’t eat. Next thing he knows she’s slurping ramen, he’s scolding. Are they going to keep living like this, her getting startled at every little thing he says and talking back? She swoops away the ramen pot to get him on his way. When the lights flickers and go out, they fuss like two old people. Ri Hwan has a way of bringing it around though; if she’s scared just tell him why and he’ll explain why she doesn’t need to be afraid. It’s the relationship he’s talking about; he wants her to know that if they need to, they can go back to the way things were. Eastern medicine romance.
Next morning, Suk Joon spots Ri Hwan’s car in the parking lot. He glances up at Haeng Ah’s apartment. Tae Hee has her own surprise when she leaves for work. Ji Soon spent the night outside her door. She ignores him and walks past. He runs to catch up with her and explains that sure, he drank, but not to get pointlessly drunk; he came to her. She reminds him he stayed away for a year and now that she is seeing someone, he’s dogging around again? He was scared to come all this time, her scolding for being drunk when they dated made him feel lowly and disgraceful. She doesn’t stay quiet about that and tells him she was scared she’d end up like her mother, cooking and cleaning up after him because he drank all the time. He begs; she tells him he should have been good to her. He promises he will be from now on. “Don’t you know what too late means? Do you need a dictionary?” she spits out. Guess he does since he asks her to date him, too, along with the other guy. As she walks away she tells him she doesn’t keep garbage in her house. That means you, Ji Hoon.
Overbearing Mother chews out Yi Seul for letting Ri Hwan drop her off to see grandfather. She doesn’t want any rumors starting. Jung Woo appeases Overbearing Mother and says he’ll meet Ri Hwan and take care of it. He is the only one who can control her outbursts. Jung Woo tells Yi Seul to call Ri Hwan to meet him today since he’s leaving for China in the morning. When she hesitates, he asks if there is something wrong, but she let’s it go and says she’ll give him a call.
Ri Hwan stops Mother as she’s going out. She tells him she’ll be home after midnight. There are flowers on the passenger seat. Ji Hoon is just getting home. He looks plenty beat. Ri Hwan asks if he saw the text he sent to take care of Aunt Princess today. Ji Hoon says he did. Ri Hwan invites him to make kimchi but Ji Hoon isn’t interested. “Tae Hee will be there,” he adds. Ji Hoon hugs him for that. He must think there’s hope, the mutt.
Yi Seul attends Overbearing Mother’s gallery opening. She stares into a painting of the ocean. Haeng Ah and Ri Hwan are sitting on the sand looking out over the water. It’s as if the painting comes alive with them in it. They have a silly, flirty conversation and playfully make drawings in the air as seagulls fly overhead and a cat strolls past. “I told you it’s nice,” Ri Hwan says. They make an afternoon of it, lying outstretched in the sand, running along the water’s edge, enjoying carefree moments together. The scene fades away; it’s all in Yi Seul’s imagination. She checks her phone but Ri Hwan hasn’t returned her text.
Ji Hoon takes care of Aunt Princess’ wrist. She asks if Ri Hwan is sick. On the contrary, he’s popped open the champagne after 33 years – Ji Hoon’s way of telling Aunt Princess that Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah are serious about each other. Aunt asks if Sun Young knows; she looks worried. Ji Hoon wonders if there’s something he doesn’t know. Aunt Princess asks him to try to keep Sung Young from finding out.
Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah take a walk. She stops to shake a pebble from her shoe. Once, she tells Ri Hwan, she wrote in to a radio station with that very concern – that she felt like a pebble in someone’s shoe. When Ri Hwan inquires further he learns that she was concerned about being a bother to others. “Why would people keep me around and raise me?” He realizes she is afraid of Mother/Aunt. Haeng Ah says it wouldn’t matter if she didn’t like Mother/Aunt, but she wants to look good to her and she’s his mom. That’s why she’s scared. Haeng Ah is worried she might try that again.
Flashback: The school kids are on buses for a trip. As they pull out, a teacher blows the whistle and calls out for Park Ri Hwan. He tells him to come, something’s happened at home. Haeng Ah sees him walk past as her bus departs.
At the hospital, Aunt Princess tells Ri Hwan that his mom is going to be okay. They say she couldn’t sleep; she was going to only take a few more pills. Tears roll down Ri Hwan’s cheeks. She is having a hard time, try to understand our mom, she wanted to sleep. Aunt Princess tries to comfort him. Haeng Ah, who jumped off the bus, sits at the end of the hallway and overhears everything. As s gurney passes by she faints at the sight of blood. Ri Hwan sees that it’s Haeng Ah and runs to her side. When she comes to she asks, “Are you okay? I’m okay.” Haeng Ah is always taking the attention and worry off herself.
Back to the present: Ri Hwan tells Haeng Ah that Mother/Aunt isn’t going to do that again. Haeng Ah has a practical outlook, or maybe it is for self-protection. She tells Ri Hwan that she likes her world even with relationship problems. In her world as it exists now she’ll take the good with the bad. Also, she has him and Mother/Aunt. She does not want to be greedy and ruin that. He tells her their relationship can go forward, heck, it might even be better. She says she is not willing to gamble everything and lose it all. Who does that? She doesn’t want to be kicked out (as in Mother/Aunt making it so she can’t be with them). She says she knows he worries about Mother/Aunt because he still lives with her and doesn’t travel. He stays by her side because he’s scared, too. Haeng Ah likes where she is right now.
Flashback: Haeng Ah overhears Mother/Aunt’s conversation: “They’re only in junior high. No, never! If anything happens between those two I am going to send Haeng Ah away.” She backs out. Scared she’ll be sent away, Haeng Ah runs to Secret Garden. Ri Hwan shadows her there. It’s dark and the restaurant is locked. Ri Hwan sits next to her and asks what she’s doing there. “I have nowhere to go,” she replies. Ri Hwan tells her to get up, “Let’s go home.”
We’re back! When Ri Hwan assures Haeng Ah that she will never lose everything, she tells him not to talk that way. Dad said those things, too, that she wouldn’t be alone. Ri Hwan understands where’s she’s coming from and her fears and tells her that she’s not alone now. If she doesn’t like him she can tell him and they can go back to the way things used to be. But if she is just scared, then they should be together. He holds out his hand; she doesn’t take it, it’s too hard. He takes her hand in his and they walk to the tree that stands tall as her father’s memorial. They have come to pay their respects. Ri Hwan tells Uncle they’ve kissed (Haeng Ah lets out an exasperating sigh) and that they’re doing well. They lay a bouquet at the foot of the tree marked Kim Joon Hyuk.
Mother/Aunt’s bouquet rests on the other side of the tree trunk. She came earlier to let out all her fears and concerns: she’s ill, scared; there was a time when she wanted to forget so badly that she tried to sleep forever; now she is afraid she won’t be able to remember at all. And that she won’t be able to come here anymore. If that happens, she wonders if she can come to Senior a bit early. It is a sad scene to know that Mother/Aunt has such looming struggles and fears.
Ri Hwan drops Haeng Ah off at the radio station for work. With a grin that spreads across his face he watches her go in. When the elevator doors open, Suk Joon stands inside. Just as the doors close, Haeng Ah musters up the courage to greet him and steps in.
A glum Yi Seul checks her phone; there’s still no response to her text, “Please call me when you have time.” When Ri Hwan gets home he notices Mom isn’t there and gives her a call. She is at the hospital waiting for an MRI (although he doesn’t know that) and says she’ll be home late. She’s a bit abrupt. Ri Hwan is surprised that a driver is waiting for him. Vice President Hong Jung Woo (Yi Seul’s brother) has sent a car for something important. Rather than go with the driver, Ri Hwan chooses to take his own car.
Crisis #1: DJ Se Young isn’t answering her calls. She’s not coming; she’s having one of her meltdowns. Haeng Ah sends Joon Soo to go to her. She tells him to stay with her – there’s something wrong. Haeng Ah sends Tae Hee to inform Dong Il. It’s crunch time: they’re about to go on the air and they need a replacement DJ asap. Suk Joon observes as everyone scurries through the hallways and sums up the situation. He heads over to the studio. Tae Hee rouses Dong Il from his sleep and asks him to help with the station situation. Their awkwardness is cute. As usual, Dong Il complains non-stop to fill that dead air space he hates. She needs him to get things underway on the air. Just then, Suk Joon enters the studio in take-over mode.
Se Young is creating her own drama over her drama role. She’s outside making a scene. Joon Soo can’t seem to say anything right to noona. When he suggests going to the car she accuses him of being embarrassed by her. She hates that the “other woman” role is degrading and doesn’t do a thing for her image. Joon Soo tells her that he’s been her fan ever since her debut – “Secret of the Red Billiard Ball” – by the way she reacts, it must have been some racy drama. She can’t believe he knows that was her and shushes him as she drags him away from earshot.
Crisis #2: As Yi Seul waits for her brother at a restaurant, Ri Hwan walks in. She is surprised to see him. Looks like persuasive Jung Woo got them both in the same place at the same time. Ri Hwan apologizes to her again for not getting back to her. Yi Seul is honest and tells him he doesn’t have to apologize; it was she who lingered with feelings even though he made his feelings clear. He was kind to her and she appreciates that. Her ex-fiance happens to show up and for some reason thinks he as the right to make awful comments about her, her family, and their past. Well, Taeyang Group did make sure his family’s business took a hit because of his unmanly behavior. Ri Hwan tells Bad Ex to leave, he is making her uncomfortable. When Bad Ex won’t stop with the harassment, Ri Hwan stands up and asks if he will leave on his own or should he make him? Enter Jung Woo who hightails it over to Bad Ex with a swing and fighting words in that order. Ri Hwan steps up before Jung Woo kills the jerk, introduces himself, and suggests they talk.
Crisis #1 has been averted: Kang Suk Joon fills in. He is as smooth as silk in the DJ seat. He and PD Haeng Ah team up for the segment. Se Young’s real debut was not the drama she is known for, but one in which her name didn’t even appear in the credits. She is shocked that Joon Soo even knows of it. He tells her she was pretty then, that he just remembers her face. Having Joon Soo fanboy over her is all she needs to snap out of her tantrum. When Se Young finds out that Suk Joon filled in, she has a new panic that he will take her job. Joon Soo adds a final touch to keep noona on cloud nine: he gives her a lift back on his motorcycle. The freedom ride gets her over her identity crisis in style. Oh Se Young is back on Black Radio.
Crisis #2 abates: Older brother Jung Woo wanted to meet Ri Hwan. He asks the usual questions about Ri Hwan’s family and profession. Why Eastern Medicine (especially when his family owns the hospital)? Ri Hwan says it is not completely different, but he wanted to treat things that needles and drugs couldn’t help. It is clear the decision was personal as well, wanting to help his friend who has phobias with hospitals. Jung Woo asks if he knows why Yi Seul became a dentist. It is because she can remain anonymous. No one remembers their dentist’s face – she can hide her ugliness and fat body. Jung Woo knows how self-conscious his sister is because of a mother who is obsessed with a thin body. Overbearing Mother suffered at the hands of their grandmother it seems. “You married into this family with nothing;” Jung Woo explains his mother’s complex. The cycle of abuse is alive and well. When their relationship comes up, Ri Hwan makes it clear that he and Yi Seul are not headed toward marriage. Jung Woo asks if Yi Seul thinks that as well. When Ri Hwan doesn’t say anything, Jung Woo replies that he wants his sister to have a nice dream for once. The two men understand each other.
Dong Il is jumpy around Tae Hee. With those side glances she gives him, I wonder if it is him she is attracted to. They are both unsure over Suk Joon and Haeng Ah in the studio together. Haeng Ah and Suk Joon have a few seconds off air. She tells him that it wasn’t an act (the kiss). He is not convinced; there’s no way her heart would change suddenly like that. She likes being with someone who knows all of her. In relationships, she was always on the side that wanted more. It made her anxious and nervous. She can be herself (with Ri Hwan) and that feels more real to her than anything. Suk Joon seems preoccupied: he tells he that if something happens, pretend she doesn’t know him. She will know soon enough (the vague kdrama warning of doom). Management-union fallout must be about to explode.
Mother/Aunt consults with the doctor about her test results. The diagnosis: Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t want to involve Ri Hwan yet. She asks for a little time; there’s something she needs to do first. When she asks if it’s hereditary the doctor tells her it’s 50-50. There’s no certainty her son has it, he tries to offer some hope. Mother/Aunt closes her eyes; it is hard for her to hear all this.
Ri Hwan calls Haeng Ah because he misses her. It’s too cheesy for her and she drops the phone in mock annoyance. In her best operator voice she says, “The customer has been disconnected. Please leave a voicemail.” Ri Hwan is amused. “Is that so?”
Ri Hwan wants to surprise Mother and waits outside the hospital at midnight. He’s brought a bouquet for her. Mother is more upset than surprised to see him. She isn’t prepared and her emotions overflow as her cheerful son waves to greet her.
- Phew! If this seems long, it is. There was so much devoted to backstories that going from present to past and back again felt necessary but tedious. Still, I am not unhappy with the direction of the show in filling out our characters.
- Ri Hwan is so obviously happy. It is fun to see him that way, but I can’t help but think there may be a twist around the corner. And that twist could come in any of several ways; Mother/Aunt, Haeng Ah and Suk Joon, Haeng Ah and Mother/Aunt, even a blind-sided swipe from Yi Seul. Not sure what it will be, but it feels certain.
- Suk Joon’s preoccupation is just meh for me. I can’t fathom that it will be so eye-opening to Haeng Ah that she will blame herself for his downfall because she left him or wasn’t attentive – something along those lines. I hope it doesn’t go that way, but does anyone else feel that is a possibility?
- Is there a hint of doom in the doctor’s and Mother/Aunt’s conversation about early onset of Alzheimer’s and its hereditary component with (da da da da daaaaaa!) Ri Hwan? Really? No. Just no. (But it was an omen of the kdrama sort that is bad bad.)
- Actually, nothing feels quite right in the relationship department after this episode. Haeng Ah may seem on board, but I fear that it is forced and that she is not dealing with her concerns because Ri Hwan is so happy (and she is too, it is just more cautious and she keeps ignoring that because Ri Hwan wants her to ignore it and pretend that the issues really aren’t issues).
- Who is Ri Hwan’s father?
- What is so urgent to Mother/Aunt? It’s starting to feel like it has more to do with her rather than Haeng Ah and Ri Hwan per se.