Bubblegum 풍선껌 Episode 9
[Love, So Heavy and So Scary]
It’s hard to know if rooting for Tae Hee and Dong Il is worthwhile. When she boldly asks him if he likes her, he predictably says that he’s scared of her. That’s the best answer he can give which, she tells him, is no answer at all. He questions whether it’s even okay for them to like each other and that she should find someone who suits her. After going around in circles Tae Hee comes to the conclusion that they’re on the same page which exasperates Dong Il to no end. As he walks away she calls out, “I overheard your phone call.”
Flashback – Dec. 22, 2014: Tae Hee finishes up at work late one night. Dong Il makes a happy birthday call to his kid. He asks how things are, about mom and that man, and when it’s clear that the festivities are underway he tells his kid to go on and have a good time. It is after the call ends that he says, ‘Your father misses you…” Dong Il has taken up residence in the employee room in the office building since things aren’t going well at home. He is unaware that Tae Hee is in the next room and has heard everything.
Nearly a year later, Dong Il’s living circumstances haven’t changed. He walks the lonely streets and passes the bar where Ri Hwan can’t drink enough to drown his sorrows. Ji Hoon watches over his hurting friend. It is Ji Hoon who texts Haeng Ah to come out and meet Ri Hwan. Their painful embrace is full of emotions that have built up for their entire lives and spill over at the place where they find themselves. He says to her, “Don’t leave, okay?” The tables are turned as Ji Hoon carries a passed out Ri Hwan home and lays him on the bed. As he and Haeng Ah tiptoe out, Ri Hwan grabs her wrist. Wanting to give them privacy, Ji Hoon nonchalantly calls out that he’s leaving – don’t mind him – he won’t be back until the morning. Ri Hwan pulls Haeng Ah beside him.
When people come across truths they can’t deal with they close their eyes in hopes that the darkness will cover and hide everything. Finally he sleeps, and with a whispered, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t keep my promise,”Haeng Ah leaves. She told him on the veranda on that happy day that she couldn’t run away now because she liked him, too. It was a short-lived promise; now she feels that disappearing is the only solution to their family problems.
Ji Hoon and Ri Hwan eat hangover soup for breakfast. Ri Hwan asks if he can work just mornings; he needs to spend time with his mother. Ji Hoon loses it when he finds out that his mother has Alzheimer’s and in Korean fashion yells out his frustrations and denials. “What idiotic doctor said that?” he asks helplessly.
Ri Hwan finds Haeng Ah on the third floor and takes her to get something to eat. He doesn’t understand why she is stepping back from their relationship and insists that it isn’t necessary. It will all work out. She tells him they have to go back to the way things were because everyone will be better off if they do that. He says their hearts matter too; is it really possible to just throw away how they feel? She says she can. Haeng Ah knows that losing Mother/Aunt over this means she will lose Ri Hwan. In order for that not to happen, she will give up anything, even her heart’s desire.
When Ri Hwan won’t stop Haeng Ah asks the hardest question of all, “Can you leave Aunt and hold me?” Ri Hwan isn’t able to answer.
Yi Seul pulls strings to get the most up-to-date treatment options for Alzheimer’s. It is her way of trying to help Ri Hwan by doing something good for his mother. Mother/Aunt still doesn’t know that Ri Hwan knows about her illness. When he stops by for her green smoothie he downs the entire “barfed-up grass” glass in one gulp. Mother/Aunt tells him to stay warm; like a good son, he tells her to do the same. When she leaves, he opens the fridge and adds the yogurt his mother left out again.
Se Young is on set filming her drama. It is all to real as Se Young, who plays the other woman, gets her hair ripped by the angry wife. Joon Soo is right there to pamper her. When he offers to make a coffee run, one of the other stage hands misinterprets the coupon punch card she gives him for a credit card. She overhears the stage hand talking with a couple of other guys that Joon Soo is her kept man. She feels sorry to Joon Soo for getting dragged down because of her.
Haeng Ah comes out of a pharmacy and takes something. We hear the pharmacist’s voice-over tell her that the ones she takes during the day won’t affect her, but at night it will make her drowsy. Just so her stomach doesn’t feel sick, that’s all that matters, replies Haeng Ah. What ominous mid-episode snippet is this?
Aunt Princess is the one person who knows the big picture more than anyone. She helps out Mother/Aunt as much as she can during the day. When she sees Haeng Ah coming down from the third floor, she tells her it isn’t a good idea for her to be there. Just then Yi Seul pulls up; she’s come to talk with Mother/Aunt about alternative medical options. While Mother/Aunt is grateful for the offer, she turns down Yi Seul’s help.
Haeng Ah is still in the front when Yi Seul leaves. It’s time for these two to talk. In some ways, it’s refreshing that both are frank and don’t say one thing but mean another. But why is that also disconcerting? Kdramas don’t work that way with both prospective lovers of one man treating each other civilly. At first, Yi Seul expresses her annoyance that Haeng Ah is clueless enough to still be in the picture; after all, Mother/Aunt doesn’t like her so why is she making Ri Hwan choose between his mother and her? Haeng Ah, (who seems to be getting smaller these days, doesn’t she?) doesn’t get the chance to say that she has already stepped back. It is as if we are seeing two Yi Seuls: on one hand, she acts like the rich, privileged daughter of a chaebol family who gets what she wants; on the other hand, she sets her pride aside and offers Haeng Ah everything if she will disappear from Ri Hwan’s side. Haeng Ah is only looking at how she can keep Mother/Aunt and Ri Hwan and with no pride of her own, begs Yi Seul to do everything she can to help the Alzheimer’s. As she leaves, Yi Seul apologizes and tells Haeng Ah to forget (the condescending things) that she said. Haeng Ah takes the punches like a resigned non-guilty party who steps in for the blows by habit.
Se Young acts disinterested in Joon Soo’s continued attention after what she overheard. He says he doesn’t care about what others think. Even though she acts like his hanging around her is getting to be a problem, she really wants to let him go for his sake. When he won’t back down, she confesses that her family has had a hard time because of her and she doesn’t want that to happen to him. Joon Soo holds her tight and steps up like her protector. He tells her that none of that matters to him.
Tae Hee is angry that she can’t even protect Haeng Ah from herself. She scolds her on the roof for staying in a situation where she will only continue to be shredded. Didn’t she warn her from the beginning not to get romantically involved with Ri Hwan? Now look how it’s turned out. Most of all, she is angry that Haeng Ah is acting like it’s no big deal to get set aside just like how she acted when it happened with Kang Suk Joon. Tae Hee takes it upon herself to call Suk Joon.
Whatever Tae Hee says to him makes Suk Joon go meet with Ri Hwan at his clinic. This time it is Suk Joon who asks Ri Hwan for a favor. He wants him to let her go if all she is going to do is cry by his side. Ri Hwan stands firm that he can protect her. Even so, if they are apart they will be in pain, so it is better to be together and share the tears and pain. Can Ri Hwan believe these things to be true against what is going on, though?
Ri Hwan can’t think about anything but Haeng Ah. He doesn’t want to believe that she cries, or hurts, or is in pain because of their relationship. He goes to the radio station and grabs her with the resolve that, yes, he can hold her. Right here, right now. Anything else he tries to do, anywhere he goes, it all leads back to her, he tells her. In the end, it’s her. No matter what, he will get Mother/Aunt to understand they are right for each other. He is determined, his lovesick heart oozes over as he tries to convince her (and himself) that all is well.
Despite Overbearing Mother’s usual barrage of insults, Yi Seul has a tender moment as she tells her mother not to get sick. Even then, Overbearing Mother can’t see her daughter’s concern for what it is, but as difficult as she is, her mother is her mother and Yi Seul doesn’t wish her ill.
Aunt Princess and Mother/Aunt return to the house after a doctor’s appointment and errands. Aunt Princess is a dear and reassures her that she will help her write down everything so she won’t forget it. The phone rings. Mother/Aunt stops dead in her tracks sensing something is not right. It is a call from her brother that Father has died. Mother falls apart. She didn’t get to make amends with him. Brother is harsh, reminding her that she was stubborn until the end and didn’t listen to their father. He says that Father waited for her, didn’t she know that?
Mother/Aunt is in bad shape after the funeral. Ri Hwan and Aunt Princess help her into bed. They both know she is fragile and watch over her around the clock, worried sick. She sleeps deeply for days. Mother/Aunt’s dreams are mixed with past memories or people, places, and time.
Dream flashbacks – July 1983:”What about the baby?” Sun Young asks the first thing. She turns as she hears the cries of her new baby. The crib is tagged: Park Sun Young’s Baby.
1982: A pregnant Sung Young leaves home carrying a suitcase.
January 1983: Jun Hyuk (Haeng Ah’s father) enters the bedroom and panics when he sees Sun Young with a handful of pills. He asks her what’s wrong and what does she think she’s doing? Is it his or her father’s voice over saying, ” You’re a doctor. You’re going to be a mom soon, how could you think to do this?”
July 1983: This time when Sun Young asks the nurse about the baby, she turns her head to an empty crib. Like a waft of smoke, the writing on the crib tag disappears, leaving no record of a baby.
Mother wakes up startled. Ri Hwan asks, “Are you awake?” Aunt Princess comes in. Mother grabs her and, looking at Ri Hwan, asks, “Who is that? What about Haeng Ah? Where is Haeng Ah?” She looks strangely at Ri Hwan. He takes his mother’s arm and calmly tells her, “I am Park Ri Hwan.” Mother doesn’t recognize him.
Flashback: Mother/Aunt reads a story to Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah at the playground. The children draw in the sand and ask questions. Why did Red Hood thow the doll away?” asks Ri Hwan. “Because it was too hard,” answers Mother/Aunt. “Why did Red Hood apologize to the bird?” asks Haeng Ah. “For a long time she disliked it,” Mother/Aunt replies.
Just two things:
- Was that baby actually Haeng Ah?
- Is Mother/Aunt’s Alzheimer’s really a smoke screen for Haeng Ah’s illness (and is she the one who might inherit Alzheimer’s rather than Ri Hwan)?