My Father Is Strange – ep 23 recap

Hye Young and Jung Hwan meet outside his office. Neither is doing well. Hye Young wonders why they have to break up. “Don’t you love me, Jung Kwan?” He tells her that he loves her. But he’s come to a realization: the truth is, he is too ordinary for her. He wants to marry someone he loves and live happily ever after. He feels inadequate for her. Jung Hwan leaves with a bittersweet comment that he is thankful to her for dating him again after eight years, if even for a short while. Indeed, he is the man who knows the most about Byun Hye Young.   

Jun Young and Yoo Joo arrive home after their honeymoon. In traditional hanbok, they bow to Grandma and Mom and Dad, officially joining the family as a married couple. Mom compliments Yoo Joo for arranging the wedding while working full time. The newlyweds pass out gifts to everyone; Grandma seems especially pleased with her grandson’s marriage.

Hye Young is noticeably mopey. Mom follows her into the girls’ room and scolds her for making everyone uncomfortable. Break up and get over it, Mom says. Hye Young says she is doing her best, but the tears won’t stop streaming down her face. Mom is unsympathetic, “How annoying.” Mi Young and Ra Young sleep in Mom and Dad’s room to give Hye Young her privacy. Actually, they are all worried because they’ve never seen Hye Young act like this over a man. Dad thinks they should give her time. Alone and under the covers, Hye Young sobs.

Yoo Joo has overslept and runs into the kitchen to help Mom with breakfast. The bathroom time is hectic and even more complicated with pregnant Yoo Joo. Suddenly Jun Young wants to set up a bathroom schedule to accommodate her. While on the topic, Joong Hee mentions that someone used his bidet. Everyone denies it around the table until Yoo Joo admits that it was her – she didn’t know. Dad cheerily jumps in and offers to add one for her. Looks like the list of individual accommodations is growing.

Uncle putzes around the house. It is awkward now that he’s lost his job, but he heads out because he doesn’t want Aunt and Grandma to know. Grandma stops by to see if Mom wants to go with her to the bathhouse, but she is aghast at the table filled with dishes that Mom has to wash. “You dug your own grave,” Grandma says to Mom, for letting so many live in her home.

Jung Hwan can barely function. When he sees that a position is posted in Vietnam, he applies. Landlady Oh is concerned that he hasn’t been home in the last few days and doesn’t answer her calls. Husband stops by his son’s office. Jung Hwan is up front with his dad; he won’t come home because of his mother. He broke up with his girlfriend and he is so angry when he sees his mother over what she did, that he needs to leave for a while. While his dad understands, he feels sorry. Husband tells Landlady Oh that because of her, she won’t be seeing her son for a while. She is in denial and doesn’t believe that Jung Hwan will really leave. Landlady Oh remains as stubborn as ever and won’t take responsibility.

Hye Young has lunch with her friend although she hardly touches her food. She admits that she sheds tears from time to time over the break up, but she doesn’t want someone who doesn’t want her. “Why is everyone so crazy about marriage?” Hye Young wonders. As a lawyer who sees plenty of ugly behavior between divorcing partners, Hye Young’s view of marriage is jaded. Her friend tells her that, sure, there are ups and downs. But she is happy to be married and loves raising her children. But, Hye Young insists, didn’t she lose herself raising kids? Is that what she went to law school for? Her friend nods, but makes the point that her choice to marry was a good one for her and she is happy.

Newlywed Yoo Joo passes out rice cakes at work. Unfortunately, Mr. Kang heard that she was pregnant at the wedding (thanks to Grandma’s speech) and strongly implies that it is a problem at work. Yoo Joo tells him that she plans to work up until the baby is born and then return after her three-month maternity leave, but he doesn’t mince his words; that isn’t going to work. Her o-workers will feel awkward asking her to stay late even if she says she is willing to do so. Yoo Joo feels uncertain and her job is in jeopardy. (Now Mr. Kang’s surprised reaction at the wedding makes sense. He is the hiring and firing agent at Gabi Entertainment.)

Aunt discovers that Uncle forgot his camera at home and takes it to the studio only to find out that it is closed. She calls Uncle and ask where he is – he lies and says that he is with a client at the studio. Aunt realizes what the real situation is. She finds Uncle eating a triangle gimbap on a park bench looking for jobs in the paper. But she hasn’t come to scold him, rather she consoles him and turns the situation into a positive one. I’ve come to appreciate the subtle love that Aunt shows Uncle and finds a way to respect his efforts even though they are lacking. With bags filled with fresh ingredients, Aunt cooks up a meal that makes Grandma’s mouth water and Min Ha’s eyes bug out at the feast before them. Aunt announces that it is a retirement dinner for Uncle. Of course they all know it means that he lost his job, but with a cheerful conversation as forced as it is, the family pulls together and enjoys the meal. I have to hand it to the family for reading the situation well and responding warmly. Uncle can’t help but feel touched by his wife’s efforts to make good of a bad situation.

Joong Hee takes stunt lessons. The going is slow. After a few final directives for the day, the frustrated coach wraps up the session. Joong Hee decides to work on some moves on his own. Mi Young looks on nervously; Joong Hee asks if she has something to say. With that cue she steps up to tie his belt properly, and with a tug, Joong Hee pulls toward her for a moment of closeness that leaves them avoiding each other’s gaze. He chuckles at the thought of her as a practice partner – she is so small and light. With a confident smile Mi Young tells him not to worry.

She moves in to demonstrate, “Lower your center and pull at the waist” – and it’s a throw, that is, she throws him.

Cheol Soo and Twin drink. Cheol Soo can’t understand if he got rejected or not by Ra Young. He is a bit braver in his drunken state and calls her asking, “Does it mean you like me, too, or are you rejecting me? I’m telling you I have feelings for you.” He hangs up. So he really does like her, Ra Young realizes, and does a happy dance.

Dad waits for Joong Hee and Mi Young. He notices that Joong Hee is walking with a limp and asks if he is hurt. Joong Hee answers stiffly that he is fine and heads up to his room. Mi Young tells Dad not to worry, it was just from action stunt training, and she will bring him hot towels and a pain relief patch.

But Joong Hee really is in pain. Mi Young makes him lie down and applies a hot pack. She lingers and asks, “Why do you keep avoiding Dad?” She’s noticed, she tells him, that in a group he seems fine, but when it’s the two of them he seems to avoid Dad. Does he resent him? Joong Hee tells Mi Young that she’s crossed the line. She apologizes. But Joong Hee is willing to share a little and admits that she’s right, he does resent Dad. He has mixed feelings; was Dad happy all those years with his family and never looked for him? Sometimes he is upset when he sees Dad smiling. Just because they live together does Dad think that makes up for the past? Is he smiling as if nothing ever happened? When Dad acts worried that annoys Joong Hee the most. He stops, thinking that Mi Young must be upset that he is badmouthing her father. Mi Young understands, though; in fact she would feel the same way if it were her, she replies. “Actor Ahn, you should just tell Dad how you feel. You shouldn’t keep those feelings to yourself,” she advises. Say what he wants and take it out on him. Isn’t it better to come to a resolution? Isn’t that why he moved in? The next morning Joong Hee asks Dad to have a drink with him after work. Dad says he would love that and excitedly offers to prepare snacks.

Aunt calls on part-time jobs. Grandma sits down beside her and passes her an envelope of money. It’s Grandma’s way of thanking Aunt for being sensitive to Uncle and for taking such good care of them. Grandma knows her son is lacking, but as mothers will do, she looks for the silver lining and promises Aunt that he will make good one day soon.

Joong Hee is on time for his action stunt training. But the trainer asks if he can move back his session: lead actor Joon Sung had a schedule change and needs to practice now. Even though Joong Hee is annoyed to no end, there isn’t much he can do about it. Might as well make the best of it and pass the time, and he and Mi Young decide to play games. The competitive spirit kicks in. First, the hand push-back, Joong Hee loses his footing when he reaches to catch Mi Young. Sorry. Mi Young wins this round! 1 to 0.

Next, the coin flick – but the rules are murky, and when Mi Young hits Joong Hee’s coin off the table he calls foul. So it’s a tie; 2 to 1. The final match – thumb wrestling. Joong Hee plays dumb like he doesn’t know the game. But he catches Mi Young off guard and shouts “begin!” and wins on the sly. It is the most fun they have had together. Cuteness overload, but keep it sibling-friendly you two!

Landlady Oh begins to get concerned when her son’s phone number is disconnected. He hasn’t been home in several days and neither she nor Husband can reach him. When she gets a call from a realtor that the studio has sold, she is confused; she didn’t put it up for sale. The realtor says that her son listed it and now it has sold. Husband is upset that Landlady Oh’s behavior has caused their son to cut ties. There is a car accident report on the news. Landlady Oh thinks she recognizes the SUV as their son’s and panics. Husband finds out the hospital the victim has been transported to and they go there looking for Jung Hwan. A nurse directs them to the accident victim and for an instant, they think it is Jung Hwan lying there unconscious with serious injuries. To their relief, it isn’t him, but Landlady Oh is shaken and falls apart. All she wants is to find her son.

As Hye Young removes her makeup, she recalls that afternoon when Jung Hwan pampered her, put pads on her eyes, and gave her a warm towel facial. It was a happy moment in the apartment together that brings her to tears once again.

It’s late when Mi Young and Joong Hee get home from work. He tells her that he is meeting Dad for a drink. Mi Young is thrilled; she seems so hopeful that it will bond them. The two men pour each other drinks – soju it is. If Joong Hee has held back until this point he opens his heart tonight. Joong Hee has plenty of heart-wrenching questions for Dad: Why was he so happy at the wedding? Was his life as he wanted it to be with his four kids? Is that why didn’t he come to see him? Wasn’t he curious? He knew that he was going to be born when he broke up with his mom. Did he forget about having a child in the US when he moved back to Korea? Didn’t he wonder how his child was doing?

Over and over Joong Hee asks, no – demands, “Why didn’t you come to see me?” He thought maybe his dad was poor, or hated mom  – bu the wouldn’t hate his son, would he? Ever birthday he would think that this time, his father would come. He kept hoping at Christmas, graduation from middle school, then high school – that his father would come. Shouldn’t a dad do that? If he was good, he told himself, his father would look for him. “Do you know what it was like to live with a stepdad of a different race?” Joong Hee bombards Dad with the painful details.

“I was wrong. It’s all my fault,” Dad apologizes. But Joong Hee is insulted; he doesn’t want an apology and tells Dad that he isn’t fit as a father to even say that.

Joong Hee continues: the reason he didn’t look for him for 10 years after he moved to Korea was because he was so angry. He’d rather die. He wasn’t ever going to see him. Dad begins to weep. “Why are you crying? You have no right to cry in front of me,” Joong Hee lashes out.

But then, to Dad’s surprise, Joong Hee shifts to the present with fresh thoughts and hope for their relationship. “So, you need to be a dad to me from now on.” Joong Hee wants to do everything they’ve never done, do what a son and dad do together. First, he wants Dad to take care of his hangover tomorrow with tomato pasta and vanilla ice cream. And wake him up every morning and see him off when he goes to work. “Don’t go to sleep until I get home. Call me at least once a day – text, too.” Joong Hee wants to go to baseball games and play catch and go camping. “I’m going to make you do everything I wanted to do with you from zero to a million,” he blubbers. Joong Hee has unloaded thirty-five years of pent-up emotions and finishes with a plea for a real father-son relationship.

Dad carries Joong Hee up to the rooftop room. Jun Young watches as Dad takes Joong Hee up the stairs. Dad puts Joong Hee to bed, takes off his socks, and looks at him while he sleeps. Overcome with emotion, Dad buries his head in his hands and cries.

The next morning when the doorbell rings Hye Young calls out, “Who is it?” She opens the door and finds Landlady Oh standing there.

Comments:

  • The irony of Lee Joon playing bad actor Joong Hee was never more apparent than in this episode. I watched the scene with Joong Hee baring his soul to Dad over and over again. And I cried. The way it turned around to become a son’s plea for his father to be everything to him that he ever wanted must have put Dad on cloud nine. Dad learned details that he never knew about Real Han Soo and his wife’s relationship. Real Han Soo knew that he had a son and got divorced after he was born. This must be something that Joong Hee’s mother told him. For Joong Hee, it makes all the things that Real Han Soo didn’t do for his son in the US all the worse. Mom and Dad speculated that Real Han Soo may not have known that he had a son, but that wasn’t the case. So, while Dad has been invited by Joong Hee into a father/son relationship, the fact remains that he isn’t his father. Mom and Dad may have been able to continue to keep the truth about Dad’s background and real name from their four children forever, but I don’t think Dad can emotionally handle keeping up the facade with Joong Hee.
  • What a perfect way for Joong Hee and Mi Young to interact with judo! I mean, siblings can practice contact sports together, can’t they? Although, Joong Hee and Mi Young seem to forget at work that they are brother and sister, or maybe they are just more natural as actor/manager like they were before the sibling complication. Anyhoot, the games and competition between them is fun but now we need to get past the siblings-not-siblings fast because I think they are an adorable couple!
  • I feel for Hye Young – I totally understand where she is coming from. But, realistically, now that Jung Hwan knows about his mother’s interference in the past, and now that they’ve been caught, things can’t go back to what they were before. That’s what Jung Hwan was telling her – that the marriage question was something they could put off and not think about for a while and perhaps they could have continued dating in that way if all these other issues hadn’t come up, but not anymore. He can’t see a way to move forward and it is tearing him apart.
  •  I admire the way Aunt handled Uncle’s job loss. I loved that no-nonsense Grandma expressed her appreciation to her daughter-in-law for the way she loves her son and kindly handled a tough situation. Min Ha is a good kid, too. It isn’t easy to be the daughter-in-law living with your mother-in-law, but the family did well in reading the immediate situation and handled it lovingly.
  • I’m not sure what to think about Jun Young. Is he going to turn out to be a slacker? We haven’t heard if he passed the exam, either.
  • Landlady Oh swallowed her pride and came to talk with the person who most likely would now where Jung Hwan is. Landlady Oh is losing her bark and bite.
  • Stiff Cheol Soo loosened up enough after a few drinks to call Ra Young and express his feelings. She expressed her excitement in a cute way – but she may be too high maintenance for him.
  • What was your favorite scene in this episode?

 

 

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