Every rose has its thorns
A new day shines over the single stalk of rose that has been set outside GaeIn’s bedroom door, a wish upon it from JinHo, an entreaty for GaeIn to become tough in a world that can be cruel. Stretching out her tiredness, GaeIn steps outside and sees the pretty, ruby blossom. She picks it up and peers at it curiously. JinHo comes out of his own room to see GaeIn holding the rose. She asks him, “Is this…from you?” JinHo imparts some wisdom, “Always remember, roses have thorns. When you understand what that means, you will have conquered the mountain.” He leaves GaeIn looking at the rose, not exactly certain of the lesson in her hand. She takes a sniff at the rose’s pretty scent. GaeIn clearly has a long climb ahead of her.
At M offices, SangJoon is briefing JinHo on the merits of a new project dealing with the construction of a high school gymnasium when JinHo receives a call from the curator of the Dam Art Museum. “Yes, Kim InHee-sshi?” he answers, not unfriendly but clearly exhausted by thoughts anything to do with the Dam Art Gallery and Park GaeIn. InHee wants to give him more insider information. Apparently Director Choi has gone into retreat after his explosive confrontation with his father and has escaped away to his vacation home out of the city. InHee thinks it would be advantageous for JinHo to go seek him out, and naturally, she’ll provide him with the address. “I think he can still help, so don’t give up,” she encourages. He sighs because that is exactly what he wants to do—give up—for all the right reasons (friendship, ethics, love), but can’t completely forgo the project for all the wrong ones (ambition, revenge, money). He tells InHee, “At any rate, thank you.”
When JinHo snaps shut his cell phone, SangJoon asks the obvious question, “Why is Kim InHee calling you when the Dam Art Gallery project is all over and done with?” Since we all know that SangJoon considers his boss a stud of epic proportions, we know what he’s suspecting. He’s not wrong to presume that Kim InHee may have more than a business partnership with JinHo in mind, she clearly wants him to win the bid so she can collect on all those promised meals with him. We know it, and JinHo knows it as well. And so does SangJoon. What SangJoon really wants to know is if the feeling is mutual on JinHo’s part. Of course, JinHo is not very forthcoming and doesn’t say a word, only stares listlessly at the phone in his hand. At that moment, SangJoon’s own cell starts to sing for attention. He glances at the caller ID and a shifty expression crosses his face. He turns away from JinHo and answers, “Unnie? What’s up so early in the morning?” JinHo’s looks up and squints at SangJoon, and mimics in disbelief, “Unnie*?”
*literally means “older sister” and is a form of address between women
At a coffee shop, YoungSun is enjoying a lip-smack-worthy cup of drip by a sunny window seat. It’s a beautiful day and the world is sparkling. As great a spot as any for a confession, as SangJoon sees it. He arrives and reminds himself of the plan of action, “Today the gay-pretending comes to an end. You're about to find out, YoungSun-sshi, that I’m The Perfect Man.”
As soon as he sits down, she fusses over him. She’s noticed that his skin could use some pampering so she’s taken the liberty to bring him some easy water-soluble vitamins and, of course, skincare products. She’s even wrapped them in pretty gift paper. “Once you let your skin go, it may never be restored it to it’s former glory,” she nags, but it’s affectionately done and SangJoon is really touched by her interest in his well-being. He clutches the packages to his chest, and in a giggling voice choked with emotion, “Thanks a bunch, unnie!” She is just as thrilled to be able to pamper her new gay bud. He tries to tell her his secret, “Okay, so unnie, I have a confession to make.” She puts her elbows on the table and leans in, “Go ahead, tell me, tell me.” Looking deeply into her eyes, “The truth is…I’m…” He lowers his voice and in a low baritone, “I’m The Perfect Man.” She stares, “Are you serious?” For a fraction of a second, a wall descends between them and in that fleeting moment, SangJoon decides he’d rather stay gay and keep his new best friend who buys him vitamins and expensive cosmetics rather than tell the truth and lose her. “NO!” he squeals, collapsing in a fit of [fake] hilarity at the possibility that he’s a macho, macho man. She joins in the laughter. SangJoon’s face twists at his own cowardice.
Then, YoungSun tells SangJoon she also has something to ask him. When she hesitates, saying it’s too embarrassing for her to even bring it up with GaeIn, SangJoon fans his fingers and encourages her to let it all out. She ventures, “What…do you think of me…as a woman?” He tries to understand the question, “You mean, are you asking me if I’m attracted to you?” She slaps his hand, no silly, she wants an objective opinion on her womanly charms, her sex appeal; does she still have it? Basically she wants to know if a red-blooded hetero man would think she’s over the hill. She believes her gay friend will be completely honest with her. He declares enthusiastically, “What you talking about? Unnie, you’re fabulous, totally very good!” She brightens, “Right? I think so, too!” At his flattery, she preens, “You’re the best, you’re the only one I can count on!” She tells him she makes a great effort to stay youthful and fit. He stutters, “Oh, unnie, your bod is completely…fabulous…totally…uh…fabulous!” Since SangJoon is not really gay, going into any specific details about certain parts of her anatomy is too awkward for even him. He settles for vague and loud assertions of her body’s general awesomeness. When she’s mollified and convinced of her own hotness, SangJoon wonders why she’s even asking. “There’s just this reason,” she evades. “But as a woman, really, I’m very good?” He twinkles back, “Oh yeah, absolutely.” She tells him that she’s so grateful to have him in her life. They share a little high-five before she heads for the restroom, SangJoon advises her to take her own nappy, trilling, “Unnie, there’s no bidet here.” When she’s gone, he releases his own disgust with himself as now he’s stuck being gay forever. When he calls for a waiter, it’s in his pretend-gay voice, and he again groans at his own shameful behavior.
At the end of the work day, JinHo comes home to find GaeIn with a towel wrapped over her wet hair, urgently scurrying about preparing for her dinner plans with ChangYul and his mother. “Why are you in such a frenzy?” he asks. GaeIn reminds him that she’s visiting her friend who recently gave birth and she’s in a rush to head out. JinHo can’t stifle is disapproval. He probably isn’t too happy about her fibbing, but he’s more upset that she’s doing this wretched favor for a wretched person. Often times, seeing people you care about debase themselves for others can be far more infuriating than suffering injustices yourself. JinHo is having one of these moments. It angers him that she’s going through with this farce, but he can’t do anything about it. For a control freak who takes pride and self-respect very seriously, this situation is probably a chafe against his very being. He comments flatly, knowing she’s lying and irritated enough by it to push, “Then shouldn’t you have gone over earlier in the day?” To his greater annoyance, she continues to dissemble nonsense, “I did…I sure did go earlier…but I came back because…the baby threw up in my hair so I came back to wash my hair…and now I have to go back…” The look on his face is numb. It really isn’t anger, but truly, one of defeat. “Have a safe trip,” he says without emotion and goes into his bedroom. “Park GaeIn, why are you lying like this?” she asks herself. Well, probably because she knows she shouldn’t be doing what she’s about to do and lying to JinHo is preferable than being uncovered as the same doormat she’s always been, the one that gets stepped on over and over, especially by ChangYul.
At the cozy dinner of four: the three people and, of course, the big white elephant in the room with them, the elephant being the ginormous lie. “Our InHee has such a healthy appetite. I was afraid you’d be a fussy eater because you’re in charge of an art gallery,” ChangYul’s mother compliments as GaeIn continues to stuff her face as if participating in a one-man eating contest. She eats and eats and eats, trying to fill the void that has engulfed her entire being. There aren’t enough seasoned roots, leaves and legumes on that dinner table much less the universe to satisfy the kind of hunger in her gut. You see, GaeIn is in a vortex of situational hell: going to dinner at the house of one of your ex-boyfriend’s stepmothers who thinks you are her daughter-in-law because you’ve stupidly agreed to adopt the identity of the ex-best friend who almost married but ultimately dumped the man you loved, a man who stabbed you in the back with a wedding bouquet (figuratively). You know, that scenario.
ChangYul tries to make excuses, “Mom, when InHee sees delicious food, she loses all control!” The mom thinks that’s great, and throws out the popular idiom about good appetites being indicative of good hearts. “But InHee, you don’t have many words, do you?” Blood Mother coos. “After the initial greeting, you haven’t said a single thing.” GaeIn can only manage a grimace-smile, thankfully, she’s saved from answering because her mouth is packed with banchan. When it looks as if she’s finished her rice bowl, ChangYul’s mother quickly rises to get her a second serving. As soon as she’s out of earshot, ChangYul begs his fake-wife to say something, anything. Why is she acting like a mute? “You said I only had to eat,” GaeIn mumbles back. Before ChangYul can plead with her some more, his mother comes back. She’s so happy that GaeIn is enjoying the meal. “After dinner, lets talk a lot, okay? You have to tell me how you first met ChangYul and how he proposed. I have so many things I’m curious about!” ChangYul quickly intervenes, he promises to tell his mother all the details later, as InHee has always been the quiet type and not really one to talk about herself. GaeIn simply chews like a cow chewing cud, mechanical and disengaged from the moment.
Washing up in the bathroom, she looks in the mirror and scolds her reflection: what do you think you’re doing here? You really are pitiful, Park GaeIn. She’s about to rejoin the Dinner of Awkwardness when she catches the conversation between ChangYul and his mother, who is celebrating the fact that her son is finally going to be able to properly match his architectural skills against Jeon JinHo’s. That was his wish, too, ChangYul confides, but tells his mother (and an eavesdropping GaeIn) what the heavens (and kdrama viewers) have known for a long time now: his sneaky father has sabotaged the entire project so that JinHo isn’t even allowed to compete for the bid. Unnoticed, GaeIn can’t believe her ears. Just as JinHo learned in the first episode that ChangYul was just as sleazy in his personal life as in his professional, GaeIn is learning the same lesson tonight, only the flip side of it, that ChangYul is just as douchebaggy in his professional life as he is in his personal. His mother, however, thinks it works out for the best. Now ChangYul doesn’t have to duke it out with JinHo, as she doesn’t see the point in inheriting or perpetuating the same nastiness that had been between the fathers onto the sons.
Right then Blood Mother notices GaeIn holding up the wall (lurking and listening); she calls her over. She’s a nice doting lady and she wants to give GaeIn the brooch that ChangYul’s father gave her when they married (not exactly the best choice for a token of good fortune for newlyweds, considering how their marriage ended). GaeIn doesn’t want to accept it but she really has no choice. “Oh, it’s pretty,” ChangYul awkwardly guffaws and is rewarded with a nasty glare from GaeIn.
When it’s all over, ChangYul drives her home and even his dark blue car is beginning to reek of sleaziness, compared to the purity of JinHo’s angelic white one. GaeIn gives back the pin because it was meant for InHee, but ChangYul doesn’t think InHee has a right to something so precious. But she has no reason to accept it, GaeIn snaps back. “But GaeIn,” ChangYul says in his best imitation of sincerity, “Mom gave it to you so it belongs to you. Take it and do whatever you want with it.” GaeIn, battling a tummy ache from all her eating, has finally reached her threshold. She tells him the pin is not her problem and she storms into Sangojae.
Inside, she heads straight for the restroom. JinHo sees her stumble and follows her, only to see her wrapped around the toilet and vomiting. “What’s the matter? Is it indigestion?” He kneels down and pounds her back, rubbing it for her. He asks, “What exactly did you eat there?” She lies again about eating all the leftovers. He tells her to go to her room and rest. Still feeling tight in the chest, she asks JinHo to help her with acupuncture, she needs help pricking her finger. Nervously, JinHo shakes his head, “I don’t know how to do things like that.” She begs, “It’s easy. You just poke the needle into the finger here.” She points at the spot just above her thumbnail. JinHo replies, “If it’s so easy, do it yourself.” She argues that doing it alone is scary. He’s squeamish, “I don’t want to.” Her stomach gurgles.
As expected, a moment later, JinHo finds himself holding her hand with a needle poised over a thumb wrapped in thread. He inhales and exhales, working up his nerve, and closing his eyes, stabs! She yelps in pain, “Are you trying to drill a hole into my finger!? Oh…oh…but all the black blood is coming out…” JinHo asks eagerly, “I did good? Is that all then?” Naturally, GaeIn won’t let him escape that easily. Now that he’s drawn her blood, she wants to poke a little at his wounds. She asks about the relationship between JinHo and ChangYul’s fathers. With a sigh, he sits back down beside her. “How do you know about that?” Since she can’t reveal her secret dinner with ChangYul and his mother, she fibs that a memory came to her out of nowhere, something ChangYul once said. “What is that jerk going around saying…” JinHo mutters. GaeIn assures him that she doesn’t know any details. “ChangYul’s father was a managing architect at my father’s company,” JinHo tells her. “But he struck a deal with a rival and appropriated management of the entire company from my father.” Now she understands why he’s worked so hard all his life, why he hasn’t let himself take a break, even minor ones like going on trips during college. JinHo’s still feeling defeated. He says tiredly, “What did that even accomplish? No matter how hard I run, I don’t get anywhere.”
GaeIn is outraged on his behalf. She tells him he can’t give up. Isn’t it too outrageous that he’s being sabotaged behind his back, not even given a chance to fight? JinHo’s surprised, “How did you know about that?” Yet another lie pops out of her mouth, she tells him she heard some office gossip about it. She heard people saying that the project took this turn because of ChangYul’s father’s scheming. He doesn’t want to talk about it with her. “Just rest,” he says and gets up to leave again. She promises to make him another great meal so he can eat and refill his depleted energy. He smiles a little, this time too touched to pretend otherwise. “Have strength, JinHo-sshi,” she tells him. He chuckles and chides her, “Stop eating everything and anything that’s lying around.”
In his bedroom, JinHo receives the text message promised by InHee, the address of Director Choi’s hideout. He looks at the address. He was going to let the Dam Art Gallery bid pass him, but after GaeIn’s words, JinHo is wondering if this is where he needs to stand his ground and draw the battle line. He’d been running all his life, but perhaps it was running away. Maybe the time had come to stop running and fight.
He takes the road into battle…to Director Choi’s vacation house. The other man doesn’t seem all too surprised to see JinHo. By the lake, JinHo stands awkwardly until Director Choi tells JinHo to sit down because he’s scaring all the fish away. JinHo looks his usual trendy self but Director Choi is dressed down. He’s ditched the hair gel and snappy Armani for tousled, windblown hair and has adopted a more casual uniform of slacks and a pink collared button-down. When Director Choi dangles live bait at JinHo, the younger man jerks away. “I thought you were the kind of person not afraid of anything in this world,” Director Choi laughs. JinHo laughs with him.
It doesn’t take long before Director Choi asks why JinHo hasn’t brought up the mangled Dam Art Gallery project yet, their only connection to one another. The older man is fishing, alright, but what he’s trying to seduce a bite out of isn’t in the water. Frankly, JinHo is as innocent as GaeIn here and he replies, “Right now, it looks like you could use a friend more.” Seemingly out of the blue (but not really), Director Choi asks if JinHo has ever loved, if he has ever confessed that love? Both men bond over mutual heartbreak with a college junior. Since it’s common to speak without pronouns in Korean (not a lot of he and she in their sentence structures), the discussion remains ambiguous in a way.
“What went wrong?” Director Choi asks of JinHo’s failed love. JinHo admits, “I was the problem. I felt that I had too much to do and couldn’t afford to fall in love.” Director Choi: “Do you regret it?” JinHo smiles, “I’m not sure.” Director Choi tells JinHo that the person he loved worked at the library so he spent every day there. Then he confessed that love, and for a brief time, they were together. Then they broke up. “Pretty typical, isn’t it?” Director Choi says, and he is acknowledging the fleeting nature of love, a story of love lost that is so common it is almost dull in its delivery. How can it feel so trite to say it out loud when it had felt so important to him? It is JinHo’s turn to ask, “Why did you break up?” The answer is enigmatic, “My love was like poison so I ended it first. That handkerchief I lent you was a gift from that person.” JinHo asks why Director Choi would offer to lend such a precious item to a stranger like JinHo. He answers, “Maybe I was hoping we would become friends, like we are now.” JinHo smiles, satisfied with the answer. The lingering look Director Choi steals at JinHo, however, speaks volumes and is a hope for more than just friendship.
That night, the moon is full and low in the sky. “I did everything I possibly could, so I won’t have any regrets now,” JinHo tells GaeIn, who is sitting beside him in the Sangojae courtyard. They are sporting matching poses, beer can in one hand, the other hand under a chin, elbow braced on a knee. Their thoughtful expressions gaze up at the stars. With a content smile, JinHo offers in their comfortable companionship, “For as long as I live, I think I’ll always miss looking up at the night sky while sitting on Sangojae’s deck.” She suggests, “Then you can just live here for a very, very long time.” He looks at her profile, still upturned to the night sky. His smile fades. He knows that will not happen. He turns back to looking up the sky again, soaking in the memory.
They say the true sign of friendship is when silence can sit between two people and be comfortable. JinHo and GaeIn fall to silence and they enjoy the quiet night, enjoy just sharing that moment together. It may be only one evening among many, but nights like these should be cherished when they come, when there is simply someone beside you to share the stars.
The next morning at work, TaeHoon is aghast to see SangJoon wearing the same sweater as him. When SangJoon notices, he exclaims, “What the—!?” SangJoon has borrowed it from JinHo’s closet and TaeHoon has bought it in an effort to emulate JinHo. “Are you two dating?” SangJoon snits. TaeHoon says it’s all an effort to win HyeMi’s heart. He’s planning to copy everything JinHo does, from his clothes to even his eating habits. When JinHo walks in, TaeHoon chides his boss for lending clothes to SangJoon, “Look, it’s about to burst at the seams!” JinHo tells him coldly that if he can’t act appropriately at work, hand in his resignation. TaeHoon is properly chastised and thinks JinHo is being too harsh. SangJoon tells him that’s what he gets for copying JinHo and irritating him. TaeHoon points at their same-same outfit and counters that SangJoon is guilty of the same offense. SangJoon’s weird sense of humor kicks in and he says slyly, “I’m different from you. There’s a secret that you don’t know…about my relationship with JinHo.”
Away from the chatter of the office
At the same time, ChangYul and his father have arrived without an appointment to push their ideas about the gallery onto Director Choi. Under the impression that they now have the upper hand, President Han has decided to make matters fit according to his own schedule. At that precise moment, GaeIn is leaving the gallery after her brief meeting with Director Choi. President Han immediately recognizes GaeIn as the girl who ruined ChangYul’s wedding ceremony; he smells something fishy and orders Secretary Kim to go investigate why she’s at the gallery. ChangYul is also perplexed as to why GaeIn would be even five feet near the place much less gallivanting around in it like she owned the place.
Anyhow, some extended time later, ChangYul and father are still waiting around the museum. Director Choi probably smelled skunk in the building and wanted to air out the stink. Or maybe he sensed their hot-headed arrogance. Whatever the reason, he has kept the Han men cooling their heels. A few moments later, Secretary Kim comes rushing back and informs them that Park GaeIn is actually the daughter of renowned architect Park ChulHan and has been charged with the development of a children’s area at the gallery. President Han immediately sends his boot tip into his son’s shin, “You kicked Park Chul Han’s daughter to the curb!?” His father is about to pop a nut. Secretary Kim has to forcibly restrain the older man from doing serious bodily harm to ChangYul. He can’t believe his idiot-moron-stupid son had the nerve to toss out the daughter of someone as important as Park ChulHan, a legend, especially when the the replacement was a girl without any connections like Kim InHee!
ChangYul, however, doesn’t give a rip about GaeIn’s credentials and despite being an architect himself, he remains clueless to Professor Park’s significance in the field. He has his own reasons for regretting his decision to leave GaeIn and doesn’t want to hear more from his father. He storms away, leaving Secretary Park to restrain his sputtering and kicking father.
At M, SangJoon and TaeHoon have settled down enough to share calm words over coffee. TaeHoon brings up the Dam project, as that’s what he suspects is bringing their boss down. SangJoon advises the younger man to stop talking about it, that he’s sick of hearing about that place himself. Besides, what’s the use? Even the website has been taken down. And we all know, once the website of any entity goes down, they must truly no longer exist in this modern world (heh). Despite their shop talk, TaeHoon can’t stop staring at SangJoon’s shirt, “But that top, take it off. Hyung, that really looks bad on you!” SangJoon snits, “Don’t start that again.” “Take it off! Take it off! Take it off! I don’t want to be a couple with you!” TaeJoon continues to whine as he tries to manhandle the fabric off the other man, thereby knocking coffee all over SangJoon. Raising his voice, SangJoon yells, “You spilled it on me!” TaeHoon is glad, “Good, now you can take it off!” He refuses to let the issue die and starts to wrestle with SangJoon over the shirt. “Take it off! Take it off!” he keeps chanting petulantly. SangJoon starts to giggle as it starts to get ticklish and ridiculous. “No.” “Take it off!” “No.” “Take it off!” Giggle, laugh, wrestle.
Naturally, that’s exactly when GaeIn walks through the door and sees the intimate exchange and mistakes the brotherly teasing for workplace skinship and flirting. SangJoon notices GaeIn and immediately says, “It’s not what you think!” TaeHoon’s not sure what’s going on and he is especially confused when GaeIn scolds SangJoon, “How can you do this? You know full well what JinHo-sshi is going through right now!” SangJoon covers GaeIn’s mouth before she can ‘out’ JinHo and SangJoon to more unsuspecting bystanders. He pushes her into JinhHo’s office. “I’m so disappointed in you, SangJoon-sshi!” she declares, as JinHo gets up from his desk, wondering what’s going on between the two. SangJoon explains that GaeIn is misunderstanding his relationship between TaeHoon and thinks it’s like that. With a flirty laugh, SangJoon puts a hand on JinHo’s chest and coos, “You’re the only one for me, you know that right?” JinHo shoves him away. SangJoon won’t stop and he asks teasingly if JinHo is being shy again because GaeIn is here. JinHo kicks him out of the office. When GaeIn tells JinHo that he shouldn’t let cheaters get away with their antics (pot calling the kettle black, much?), JinHo looks at her with The Face, the ‘time to tell her the truth’ face.
“I’ve never dated them, either of them,” JinHo starts. “It was your own misunderstanding from the very start.” She gawks, “Misunderstanding?” She doesn’t get it, what exactly has she misunderstood? As she waits, JinHo tries to continue, but he isn’t able to find the words. It’s not an easy task to admit to someone that the foundation of a friendship is based on a total lie and even worse, a seflish motive. No Hallmark cards for that apology. “I’m…the truth is, I’m not—” SangJoon bursts back in and wants to clarify with GaeIn that he’s not a two-timing player. “It’s just a misunderstanding, really,” he pleads with GaeIn in his fluttering imitation of a gay man, “TaeHoon and I really don’t have that kind of a relationship. TaeHoon likes women!”
After kicking SangJoon out of the office again, Jinho nervously tries to get the confession back on track but GaeIn takes the interruption to move on from the awkward issue of JinHo’s love life and turns the conversation to the reason for her visit. “I just came from meeting with Director Choi. The whole Dam Art Gallery project might actually work out. I came here to tell you not to worry. Director Choi is going to fight until the very end. With that kind of determination, there’s no way he won’t be victorious, don’t you think?” JinHo has a look of realization on his face, and it’s the look of a man who’s in danger—in danger of falling hard for a woman. He points out, unable to stop smiling, “You could have told me that over the phone.” She returns the look, “I wanted to see your smiling face with my own two eyes when I gave you the news.” The shine of his own smile dulls a little because now he can’t tell her the truth, as he’s not ready to pay the price of truth: her friendship.
ChangYul and Secretary Kim have now been charged with spying on GaeIn by President Han, who has taken a more detailed interest in her after learning of her identity. JinHo is giving GaeIn a ride back to the gallery and their casual familiarity is noted by Secretary Kim when they pull into the museum parking lot. Secretary Kim wonders aloud, “I wonder what the connection is between them.” ChangYul sighs, “It’s because of me. That jerk is my rival so GaeIn is trying to plot revenge on me by using him.” Secretary Kim is thoughtful, “Yeah, that’s not what it looks like.” But ChangYul is thoroughly enraptured by his own arrogance and only sees a girl who can’t stop pining after him. Ah, a handsome man and his narcissism.
A second later, rapping on the passenger side window pulls ChangYul out of his wishful thinking. “ChangYul!” a good-looking foreigner greets (Caucasion). ChangYul’s own face brightens and he returns in English, “Hey! Joe!” The two, and Joe’s nameless female friend, head for some refreshments and reminiscing. “It’s been too long!” Joe declares in pretty decent Korean. ChangYul says, “I know! I heard you were in Korea.” Joe excitedly goes on that he heard ChangYul got hitched and to the curator of the Dam Art Gallery, no less. At his friend’s enthusiasm, ChangYul can’t tell him the truth about his wedding disaster.
There’s a lot of unspoken truths lost in choking throats in this episode, from all our characters (SangJoon and YoungSun, JinHo and GaeIn, ChangYul on his marriage, well, ChangYul and everything).
ChangYul is curious as to how Joe would know that kind of detail and the other admits that he’s on friendly terms with Director Choi, not as friendly as others, but well enough. Joe explains that they were visiting the gallery because his friend, the nameless female, is considering a showing at the gallery. ChangYul’s surprised, “How do you know Director Choi?” Just briefly, while studying abroad, but Joe adds slyly, “I wasn’t as close to him as someone else but…” ChangYul catches the insinuation of something else, “What does that mean?” As if the Korean is getting in the way of the really good gossip, Joe switches to his native tongue, “Well, Mr. Choi is…sp…ecial…” ChangYul also switches to English (excellently, by the way), “Special? I don’t understand, what’s that supposed to mean?” Joe must share ChangYul’s mysterious affliction that prevents him from speaking plainly because he isn’t able to spit it out and circles the bush, as if being gay is some kind of deep, dark loathsome secret.
Joe tries a different approach, “Well, let me ask you something, do you know what he likes?” ChangYul is really not following this new thread of conversation. He’s not a subtle kind of guy. “I dunno,” he replies, “you tell me! Come on, Joe, just spit out!” Yeah, spit it out, Joe! The friend gets uncomfortable, “No, no, nevermind. Forget about it.” Nameless female friend drinks her own tea and tactfully looks on without interfering with the conversation (and also because she wasn’t given any dialogue to read in the scene). Back to ChangYul, who insists, “What is your problem!? I was wondering about that anyway, so you gotta tell me what he likes, okay?” Finally, Joe gives in, “Well, you’ll never be able to fulfill his desire. What Mr. Choi likes is...men.”
After dropping GaeIn off, JinHo pops by to visit with his new friend in the big office and also returns the rainbow colored [unintentially symbolic] handkerchief. JinHo also takes the opportunity to thank Director Choi for willing to go to the mat for all the smaller firms who want to participate in the Dam Art Gallery project. “No matter what the end results turns out to be, I wanted to come and tell you that I’m grateful for what you're doing,” he finishes. Director Choi seems to make a decision right there, seeing handsome young Jeon JinHo earnestly sitting across from him. He tells JinHo, “Do you know? Curiously, whenever I see you, I feel good.” JinHo politely returns the compliment. Just as ChangYul is having difficulty understanding Joe’s double entendre elsewhere, JinHo also is slow to grasp the real meaning behind the Director’s flattery. Staring into his mug, Director Choi offers, “Then do you also know that I like you?” Still not reading the underlying meaning, JinHo responds that he also finds time with the Director enjoyable because he’s a man of many charms. Director Choi decides to be more frank and informs JinHo that his heart moved toward JinHo long ago, during the Dream Art Center presentation.
Finally he gets it. JinHo is understandably shocked. He’s probably never heard the word ‘gay” so much in his entire life as he has in the past few weeks. JinHo can’t even speak, “Impossible…then you’re…” Director Choi explains that he never thought to confess his love like this ever again, but someone like JinHo, who is in the same situation as him, as in gay, would at least understand his heart, if not reciprocate the feelings. Director Choi assures JinHo he doesn’t expect anything right away, but is willing to give JinHo time to absorb the news.
JinHo leaves the office, exhausted by yet another dramatic turn of events. He sighs over the burden of being such a sexy beast that men and women alike throw themselves at him by the dozens on a daily basis. Ok, he isn’t contemplating exactly that but more likely the rabbit hole of his life that seems get deeper and deeper and deeper with no end in sight.
To make a day worse, he bumps into the perpetually jealous ChangYul on his way out. “Aigoo, who do we have here?” ChangYul calls out gleefully, looking forward to venting some of his own frustrations out on Punching Bag JinHo. Not in the mood, JinHo tries to walk away. Of course, that’s not going to happen. ChangYul starts by insulting JinHo’s hole-in-the-wall firm but takes the venom up a notch by accusing JinHo of pretending to be gay to seduce the support out of Director Choi. Who thought the self-righteous JinHo would sink that low? JinHo tries to walk away but stops when ChangYul’s vicious ranting hits rock bottom. What about all that talk about fighting bare-fisted, ChangYul continues to taunt at JinHo’s frozen backside. It’s an unjust accusation as JinHo had never intended for Director Choi to develop romantic feelings for him, but in a way, a little too close to home to be a complete falsehood.
“So unlucky. WHY DO YOU KEEP HANGING AROUND HERE!?” ChangYul yells, grabbing JinHo’s shoulder from the back. JinHo, pushed beyond tolerance, spins around and slams his fist into ChangYul’s face and sends him sprawling backwards. ChangYul rubs his tender jaw, “What was that? Is this your way of telling me I’m right?” JinHo doesn’t say anything. “I’m really disappointed in you, Jeon JinHo. So disappointing. I never thought you’d be the type to go so low as to pretend to be gay to get at Director Choi.” JinHo denies manipulating Director Choi to which ChangYul snits back, “Then what? Are you two dating for real? Why do you keep hanging around here?” The question dangles in the air.
Just in time to hear the last of the exchange, both Director Choi and GaeIn happen upon the very public, very loud confrontation. JinHo notices Director Choi’s arrival but ChangYul doesn’t realize an audience has formed as Director Choi is behind him, but also because he’s so thoroughly focused on smearing JinHo’s good name. So unknowingly, he pushes JinHo into a no-win corner, placing him at a fork in the road, forcing JinHo into a situation that requires him to completely commit to a path. ChangYul demands, “Admit it, you’re using Director Choi, aren’t you? Or, could it be, are you really gay?”
There are two very interested parties hovering nearby, breath held for JinHo’s answer. GaeIn looks stricken, her heart in her expression. As for JinHo, he knows he shouldn’t answer any way but honestly, but whatever is going through his mind, he makes the wrong choice, the one that TaeHoon warned him of, that winning at all costs is not winning at all. “Yes,” JinHo whispers, “I’m…gay.” GaeIn drops whatever was in her hand and it smacks to the floor. JinHo turns toward the sound. And meets her gaze. With one sentence, he has gone down a path that may lead completely away from GaeIn and he knows it. The regret is evident on his face, but the memory of the injustice done to his father is a far greater motivator than his fledgling feelings for Park ChulHan’s daughter.
ChangYul is beside himself in scoffing amusement. “So it was like that? You weren’t even a man?” ChangYul, however, takes it too far when he starts to accuse JinHo of shaming his father’s memory. He keeps going on and on and on about JinHo being less of a man and if he had known, he might have gone easier on the pitiful JinHo. All the while, JinHo can only manage to shut his eyes and try to block out the verbal abuse.
Director Choi has heard enough, he makes move to interfere but GaeIn reacts first and charges in swinging. “STOP IT! Who do you think you are to look down on this person? What’s so great about you?” GaeIn yells furiously. “It’s not like he asked to be born this way, it’s just the way he is!” ChangYul is startled to see her. “GaeIn,” he calls her name plaintively. Ironic how the first time these three stood in the same frame, after the Dream Arts Center presentation, GaeIn had taken ChangYul’s side. Oh, how the heart branches out in directions unknown. GaeIn passionately defends JinHo, that loving isn’t about gender preference, it’s about the heart and giving it to someone. How is ChangYul a better man than JinHo when the only way he knows how to be a man is to rip out someone’s heart? At least JinHo understands the meaning behind love. She’s so passionate in her speech that she doesn’t hear JinHo tell her to stop. When she continues, JinHo screams for her to stop. As Director Choi has long walked away from the scene, JinHo also turns away. His body language says, enough for one day.
“JinHo-sshi!” GaeIn tries to follow JinHo but is held back by ChangYul, who doesn’t understand why she’s on his enemy’s side now. “Seriously, why are you being like this?” he demands, holding onto her arm. She yanks her arm free, coldly, dismissively, “Let go.” She catches up to JinHo, “Talk to me.” He says dully, “About what? I have nothing to say.” He leaves and all GaeIn can do is stare after him.
ChangYul, if nothing else, is one thick-skinned human being. He finds GaeIn and grabs her arm again. “Park GaeIn, what exactly is your relationship with that guy? Why do you keep taking that dirty jerk’s side? What, are you now dating gay men or something?” This tirade, finally, earns him the slap from GaeIn that he’s had coming for a long time now.
InHee is walking the gallery corridor and comes upon the couple just in time to see GaeIn’s flattened palm leave a big red welt on ChangYul’s cheek. Her eyes are wide with shock, but not as wide as ChangYul’s. “Dirty?” GaeIn is yelling, “Who are you calling dirty!? Why is JinHo dirty? Man or woman, it’s about one person loving another person. You’re a human being that has never loved anyone with any sincerity. What right does someone like you have to call JinHo dirty!?” (You tell him, sister!) ChangYul can’t believe the way GaeIn is behaving, even when he broke up with her she never lost control. At the wedding, despite what he did, she never slapped him. But now…he clutches his cheek, stunned by her boldness. GaeIn realizes how passive and stupid she’d been. “I guess JinHo must have changed me,” she tells him, she’s no longer going to quietly accept all the abuse everyone dumps onto her.
Too bad JinHo isn’t in any mood to congratulate her on the new empowerment. JinHo is having his own confrontation—with the streets of Korea and with the other innocent drivers on the road. His vision blurred by emotion, he swerves recklessly through the streets and the episode ends with JinHo in a deadly game of cat and mouse with traffic.