My Father is Strange – episode 2 recap

Jung Hwan and Hye Young end up as panel members on “Love and Battlefield,” a TV show that discusses various topics on love and marriage. Real people with real issues ask for advice. Seeing Hye Young face-to-face makes Jung Hwan relive their break up. The first topic is about a guy who fell for a woman’s looks. The story parallels Jung Hwan’s flashback eight years ago.    

Flashback: That call where Hye Young tells Jung Hwan “We’re over.” He thinks she is kidding and asks her how late she will be. He is waiting at the movie theater. She says the message means what it says, they’re over. He tries repeatedly to call but her phone is turned off. Jung Hwan leaves messages, “Hye Young, what’s wrong? I don’t know what I did wrong. It’s all my fault. Let’s meet.”

He stands in the pouring rain outside her house crying, “Why on earth are you doing this to me?” In desperation he pounds on the gate. Mi Young tells him Hye Young went to Australia on a work holiday visa. Jung Hwan is devastated.

Jung Hwan is jolted back to the panel discussion in the midst of Hye Young’s advice that a person can be charged with stalking and blackmail because the opponent clearly refused. He argues that if the incident is reported to the police, the offender will be fined $80. How is that helpful? Hye Young retaliates with information that recently a stricter  law has been passed to prevent blackmail and harassment. Touché. A man who’s identity is protected behind a screen tells about his issue. He feels betrayed by the woman he was going to marry because she hid the fact that she had plastic surgery. He called off the wedding. Now the woman wants alimony. One panel member argues that he should pay but Hye Young argues that trust was broken between the couple since the bride-to-be hadn’t been honest. This is not about looks it’s about trust, she points out. Therefore he shouldn’t have to pay. Jung Hwan is worked up and argues that this isn’t about trust but appearance because the man was attracted to her looks. So he should pay. Hye Young and Jung Hwan are at odds every step of the way.

Mi Young’s story: For three years now Mi Young has been searching for a job. She checks for newly posted positions daily, has earned CPR certification and several licenses including bus driver. Nothing has helped much. She was a Judo athlete in high school and won a bronze medal in the National Festival – it was the best moment of her life. But a shoulder injury forced her to quit. She was depressed and gained weight. However, she snapped out of it, jogged and lost weight, and courageously rose above her difficulties. She began applying for jobs.

This is the victory story Mi Young rehearses in her mind and plans to tell the interview committee at Gabi Entertainment. She is optimistic about her approach, but the line of applicants waiting for an interview is long and she is nervous. On her way to the restroom she bumps shoulders with a woman whose name tag falls to the floor.

Mi Young picks it up: Team Manager Kim Yoo Joo. She recognizes her former classmate who now has a very successful job. Mi Young is intimidated and loses confidence.

Finally, she is called in with several other applicants. As questions fly, it is clear that the others have impressive credentials and polished answers. When it’s Mi Young’s turn the interviewers ask about her Judo, her age, her plans to marry – after all, she is 31. She tries to be assertive and replies, “I don’t even have a boyfriend and am not interested in marrying. I want to be able to wear an employee ID and work hard for the company.” Her response is a bit dated and simple.

After the TV show Jung Hwan and Hye Young meet in a studio room and bare their teeth at one another. She thinks, How does it feel to be outdone? Bring it on. Jung Hwan has been in a daze ever since they met at the reunion. The incident eight years ago is eating him alive. He just wants to know what happened. Why did he got dumped for no reason? Does she know how hard he tried to track her down? Why did she cut him off? He can’t hide his anger and hurt.

“I’m sorry. I don’t remember the reason,” she tosses back. “Who remembers the reasons for every break-up? Besides, it’s been eight years.” Hye Young walks out the door.

“What?” Jung Hwan is dumbfounded. “She doesn’t remember?” He can’t deal with that blow and runs after her and grabs her hand. She immediately tells him to let go. But he pleads pitifully to know why she dumped him. She doesn’t understand why he wants to dig up what happened eight years ago. The TV director runs into them and compliments them on their performance. Hye Young leaves without answering Jung Hwan.

Joong Hee is excited about the miniseries script his manager got him. He even likes the title “Oh My Boss.” Not far into the script, however, Joong Hee realizes it’s not a romantic comedy but a story about a father and son and throws down the script. But he picks it right back up; after all, it is a miniseries. Manager has ordered a nice lunch but Joong Hee is impossibly picky and difficult. And, apparently he isn’t going to be able to shake the bad actor image.

Blaring on the TV in the restaurant is that dreaded Former Actor Update video. Again. Jung Hwan didn’t keep his promise to delete it. An irritated Joong Hee vows to get him for this. He is eager to get past his bad image and asks, “So, when is the audition?”

The family gathers around the table and Mom asks Hye Young how the show went. She is tired and replies, “Just watch it when it airs.” Ra Young asks Mi Young about the interview at Gabi Entertainment. Dad is surprised to hear she had one. “Don’t get your hopes up. It’s a Top 10 company and all the applicants have crazy credentials,” Mi Young replies.

Hye Young’s dictation: I went on the show and utterly humiliated myself. What do ex-boyfriends mean? The utter bane of my existence…You little unworthy piece of trash. I curse you!”

That night Mi Young can’t sleep thinking about Yoo Joo. “How did she get such a good job?” she wonders. “It’s not fair, I’m still unemployed. I can’t even sleep because of you!”

It’s a typical morning at home. Mom gathers eggs from the chickens on the rooftop. “Don’t look at me” she tells them. “I don’t want to get attached.” The daughters fight for bathroom time. Ra Young kicks the door, but Hye Young won’t come out. Dad tells her to go to Grandma’s place. Mom sighs. “Can’t we have a calm morning even once?”

Jung Hwan waits for Hye Young outside her office. “Why did you dump me?” He is stalking and harassing her now that they’ve met again. She tells him that he’s crazy. He says he’ll come again to get her answer.

Landlady Oh chatters at breakfast. Why doesn’t their son come home more often? Her husband eats in silence. She badgers him to have a conversation with her now that they are retired and have the time. She wants to check out the cafe in her new building together. He tells her he didn’t want her to buy the building in the first place. It is an investment for their later years she explains. “Won’t you go with me?”

Mom grabs a special cake out of the fridge and hurries off to make amends with the landlady. Grandma insists on going with her and won’t listen to Mom’s protests. Mom tells her not to lose her temper, then. They meet Landlady Oh in the cafe. Mom apologizes for being rude that time they met. Grandma doesn’t help, saying that the cafe is too luxurious and won’t do well in the neighborhood. Mom offers her the cake but Landlady Oh refuses it; she doesn’t eat cake from local bakeries. Mom is accommodating and scurries to take out the trash bag that Landlady Oh picks up. “Don’t say I abuse my power,” she tells Mom. Grandma watches in disgust as her daughter hauls several bags to the sidewalk. After buttering up Landlady Oh, Mom sheepishly asks for a break in their rent. But Landlady Oh is cold and informs Mom that their lease won’t be renewed. “When the term is up, vacate the store.” Mom begs and apologizes profusely holding onto Landlady Oh’s arm. Grandma can’t stand her daughter’s shameless behavior and throws a glass of water in her face.

Mom follows Grandma back to the apartment and reminds her that she’s not eighteen-years old anymore but fifty. Why is she treating her this way? Grandma has her reasons; it was embarrassing to see her daughter beg. She tells her daughter to just move the store. But Mom protests and says her husband has worked so hard after losing the previous store. Grandma blurts out that it’s not her daughter that she is upset with; it’s her worthless son who was the one who lost their store. Now she has to see her daughter and her husband struggle because of her no-good son. Uncle overhears their conversation and hides. He is the worthless son that Grandma curses.

Ra Young’s world is filled with selfies of her exercising. She fishes for compliments by posting “My face if puffy today.” #I look ugly. She is thrilled with the comments that she is pretty and slim. Her students arrive for class a workout.

To prepare for his role Joong Hee and his manager watch a movie about a father and son, but even the sentimental parts don’t affect Joong Hee. He remains unmoved. Manager has a pile of tissues at his side and says he thinks Joong Hee feels nothing because has been apart from his parents for too long. Family members have to meet often to stay close, he tells Joong Hee. He suggests Joong Hee call his father in order to get back those feelings. After all, the role is about the love between a father and son.

Joong Hee even practices his lines in the shower, “Dad never called me once in years. He never called once…Father!” His acting is awkward and forced. “I can’t do it,” he says and throws down the script. Just then his mother calls. They converse with the usual how are yous, I’m busy, don’t’ catch cold.

Joong Hee reaches over and strokes his pet turtle. “Al, who’s your father?” he asks it.

Mi Young helps out at Father’s Snackshack. She gets a call. “Hello? What? Thank you. Thank you so much.” When Dad asks if she got the job, she lies and says it’s a parcel delivery and steps out. Even though she is told to come to the office at 9 a.m. on Monday, Mi Young is not excited at the thought of a new job knowing that Yoo Joo – the person caused her so much humiliation in high school – works there.

Jun Young stops by the Snackshack and asks Dad for money for a textbook. Dad gladly hands him $30 and asks “Will that be enough?” But Jun Young doesn’t buy a textbook; instead he busy five lottery tickets.

As he calls on the powers that be to bless him, Uncle walks into the convenience store and sits down. They pray and wish together for a winning ticket. Jun Young scratches them one by one (sorry) (sorry) (sorry). He gives Uncle one of the two remaining tickets. With a hallelujah! amen! they each scratch a ticket. Lo and behold Uncle’s ticket wins $100! They argue over who is the rightful winner. Uncle says it will pay for cousin Min Ha’s education. Jun Young blurts out that he was going to buy something for his hot girlfriend. Uncle passes the ticket to him but Jun Young says family is more important and shoves the ticket Uncle’s way. In the end, they split it 50-50.

Mi Young can’t shake the painful memory of being teased and called a pig in high school by Yoo Joo. The thought of working at the same place as that person is killing her. She texts Hye Young and they meet at a coffee shop. Mi Young says that “a friend” has a situation.” After listening to her sister, Hye Young sums up the problem: So the friend got the job of her dreams after applying for years but doesn’t want to take it because someone who bullied her in high school works there? In a lawyer-like fashion she continues: How bad was the harassment? Are there damages? Mi Young says no one wants to sue or anything like that, but is there a way to punish a person for ostracizing and teasing someone for being overweight?

No-nonsense Hye Young can’t believe it. She lets Mi Young know that she knows the “friend” is really her sister. Furthermore, is she really not going to take the job? How is this a problem? What’s so difficult about this situation? This is how life is! Is she stupid? How does her brain work? Hye Young is unsympathetic and angry at her sister’s immaturity.

Mi Young’s lower lip quivers. She tells her sister that she doesn’t understand. Does Hye Young know the mental anguish she goes through when she sees that person? Hye Young’s lecture continues. “Do you really want to live your life jobless?” She is astonished at her sister’s naivety. Even Mi Young’s tears don’t sway her. “Do you think life is a fairy tale? Everyone goes through these kinds of things at work. Think about Mom and Dad. Aren’t you ashamed?”

With that, Hye Young calls Mom and announces that Mi Young got a job offer and accepted it. They should celebrate with a party tonight. Mi Young looks on in shock and horror.

Mom can’t contain her happiness and runs downstairs to tell Dad. They are overjoyed at the good news. “She got a job!” We should have a party!” Dad tells Mom to spend as much as she likes! They shop for food in the open market together. Dad is happy that the bags of food are so heavy. As they walk home together, Dad stops in his tracks as a man approaches. He turns to avoid him. Mom takes notice and asks, “Honey, do you still get like that?” Dad brushes it aside and Mom lets it go although she looks concerned.

Joong Hee auditions for the role. He is stiff. The director tells him to take his time, but his lines are unnatural and his emotions are over-exaggerated. The director asks if he has ever experienced the emotions of seeing his father grow old and feeble. “How does the word father make you feel?” Joong Hee can’t even think of a response and, after pausing, gives a generic answer, “He brought me into this world.” The director tells him that good acting doesn’t follow a recipe. Joong Hee reads between the lines and realizes that the audition didn’t go well. In the car on the way home Manager gets a call from the director. “I don’t think we can work together this time.” Manager asks him to please reconsider. Joong Hee hears everything over the speaker. The director’s words deliver a blow, “How can he be such a weak actor? I don’t think we can give him the role.”

Joong Hee yells at his manager to pull over, gets in the driver’s seat and speeds off. The many negative comments about his acting over the past days roll through his head. He makes a call. “Uncle? It’s Joong Hee. Can you sent the photo of my father that you said you had?”

Grandma is shocked at her daughter-in-law’s awful taste in colors. What does it matter, her good-natured d-i-l responds, they’re only scrubbers that she’s crocheting. She receives a text: There’s a party for Mi Young. She got a job. Grandma and d-i-l are excited but the next text puts a damper on things: Everyone has to pitch in $10. Grandma complains that Mom is perfect in every way except that she’s a cheapskate. Uncle joins them. Grandma suggests they just go and not pay. But d-i-l doesn’t think they should go empty-handed. Uncle locks himself in the bathroom and pulls out the lottery money. He counts out 1-2-3-4 and pokes the other bill in his pocket. He gives the money to his wife and, for once, Grandma can be happy that her loser son came through.

Mi Young tags behind her sister on the way home. Whether she likes it or not, Hye Young has put everything in motion for a party to celebrate the job. Dad is sincerely happy to host his daughter’s celebration. Mom collects the $10 “fee” from her brother’s family and lets nephew Min Ha in for half price – youth discount.

It is delightful to watch the family enjoy the meal together, talking, complimenting each other, laughing. Everyone is included. When cousin Min Ha’s slang baffles Mom, Dad, and Grandma, Jun Young translates so that everyone can join in the conversation.

It’s karaoke time! Jun Young wants a second chance but Mom says that it’s somebody else’s turn. They call for Dad to sing; he protests at first. Finally, he gets up and croons a tune that makes the children cover their ears.

Dad only sings louder. It’s a carefree, happy time for the family.

Joong Hee meets with his Uncle. He’s brought along a black and white picture of three people in judogi. Joong Hee asks which one is his father. “The one on the right,” his Uncle answers. Joong Hee reads the name embroidered on his uniform: BYUN.

Comments:

  • How I love this family! Their time together around the table, their sibling love/hate, even the bickering over the bathroom are all lovable. Mom and Dad always give their children the benefit of the doubt. I adore the way the parents beam at any good news about their children. They should be proud; after all, Mom and Dad created and maintain a home atmosphere that is caring, tolerant, and respectful.
  • I love the little touches like when Jun Young translates his cousin’s slang so that Mom and Dad can understand what’s going on in high school these days and Grandma can join in the laughter.
  • It was nice to get a more personal glimpse into the lives of Ra Young and Jun Young, too. Even Uncle, who is a bit of a bum, was generous with his lottery money so that his family and mother could join in the festivities.
  • It was hard to watch Grandma douse her daughter with water as if she were angry at her. But, in fact, Grandma is embarrassed that her own son has made her daughter’s life hard. Uncle may be a slacker, but he isn’t unlikable.
  • I’m not a fan of Jung Hwan but that could change.
  • Then there’s Mi Young – what a sweetheart in so many ways. She works hard and has a story of overcoming hardships. I like her spunk. I’m sorry she has to revisit her trauma after finding out that her high school antagonist, Yoo Joo, works at Gabi Entertainment. But I am with Hye Young on this one; Mi Young has to get over the past and face reality. Hye Young has no time for such immature behavior and can’t relate to such trivial, unresolved issues. Furthermore, she won’t allow a sister of hers to cry over the past. After all, Hye Young is an expert on moving on when it comes to ex-relationships. Or at least she puts up a really good front and carries on. The only sign of underlying feelings that she may carry is found in her recordings to herself.
  • Joong Hee is such a bad actor. Even his looks won’t carry him this time. I felt bad when he couldn’t emote at all. Of course, this all points to a childhood trauma about his father that will, no doubt, surface soon.
  • But, there is an ominous, untold story unfolding about Dad’s past. The man he avoided, the denial of being involved in Judo when Mi Young asked him about it; the name Byun on the jacket of the man who Uncle said is Joong Hee’s father. Byun, like Dad’s name: Byun Han Soo. Will this happy family fall apart over secrets?

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