Boyfriend: Episode 3
A breaking scandal makes a complicated situation even more complicated, creating a rift between two people who were just getting to know one another. Soo-hyun gets pressure from all sides to break things off with Jin-hyuk – she’ll have to decide if his companionship is worth risking everything she’s worked so hard to achieve.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
When Soo-hyun negotiated the terms of her divorce from her husband, Woo-seok, all she’d asked for as alimony was an almost-bankrupt hotel. Chairwoman Kim, Soo-hyun’s mother-in-law, had liked the idea of getting away so cheaply, but she’d added a clause that Soo-hyun would be obligated to attend any family events Chairwoman Kim summoned her to.
Soo-hyun had easily agreed, though she’d asked for clarification of one of the clauses. Chairwoman Kim had explained that Soo-hyun must never behave in a way that would harm her family’s reputation even after the divorce.
In the present, Chairwoman Kim visits Soo-hyun in her office. She immediately brings up the morality clause in Soo-hyun’s divorce agreement, angry about the scandal in the news of Soo-hyun having been photographed with a younger man.
Soo-hyun tells Chairwoman Kim that she didn’t violate the morality clause — she simply had lunch with someone she owed a favor. Chairwoman Kim pulls out an entire dossier she’s built on Jin-hyuk, and she says that regardless of the truth, it’s shameful that Soo-hyun, daughter-in-law of the Taekyung Group, got involved in scandalous gossip.
Soo-hyun argues that she’s no longer Chairwoman Kim’s daughter-in-law, but Chairwoman Kim sneers that a divorce doesn’t mean their families have completely cut ties and reminds her how her father got where he is today, running for prime minister. She says that Soo-hyun will be a member of the Taekyung family until she dies.
Just before she leaves, she accuses Soo-hyun of hiring Jin-hyuk for his looks. She warns Soo-hyun to fire him, or else she’ll invoke the morality clause in her divorce contract and revoke Soo-hyun’s ownership of her hotel.
Over in Hongdae-dong, Jin-hyuk’s friend Hye-in meets him at the playground to confirm that it was him in the scandal articles with Soo-hyun. He doesn’t deny it, telling her how they met in Cuba and that it was coincidence that he got the job at Donghwa Hotel.
She doesn’t understand how they ended up eating ramyun at a rest stop together, but Jin-hyuk just says that the articles got it all wrong. He’s worried whether Soo-hyun is okay, but Hye-in snaps that Soo-hyun is used to living under a media microscope, so he should be worried for himself.
That evening, Chairwoman Kim calls the editor of a newspaper where her company advertises to thank him for doing a good job on the article about Soo-hyun. Wow, did she orchestrate this to get the hotel back from Soo-hyun now that it’s doing well?
She gets a report from her employee, Director Choi, on the reaction of Donghwa Hotel employees to the scandal. He reports that Soo-hyun isn’t saying anything to defend herself, but that she generally treats her staff so well that they are just writing it off as gossip. He says that she even won her bid for the hotel in Cuba, and that she’s too well-liked and respected for one article to do much damage.
Chairwoman Kim muses that she’ll have to work a little harder to make Soo-hyun quit. She says that Soo-hyun’s place is at home supporting Woo-seok, and she promises Director Choi that he’ll be in charge of Donghwa Hotel once Soo-hyun steps down.
The following day, Soo-hyun’s mother forces her way into Soo-hyun’s office, angry that Soo-hyun refused to answer her calls yesterday. Soo-hyun says she’s sick of talking about this and that her mother could have just ignored it until it blows over, but her mom says she and Chairwoman Kim plan to make Jin-hyuk out to be a stalker in order to salvage Soo-hyun’s reputation.
Soo-hyun naturally objects to that, knowing that Jin-hyuk is a good, kind person. Her mother says that if Soo-hyun just sits back and runs the business, then Chairwoman Kim will take her back and she can remarry Woo-seok. She has the nerve to tell Soo-hyun to apologize to Woo-seok for this scandal, when he’s the one who asked for the divorce because he fell for another woman.
Soo-hyun says that she was sold off once by her mother, and that she won’t be sold a second time. Her mother warns that it will be Soo-hyun’s fault if her father loses out on his dream to be president, but Soo-hyun snaps that that’s her mother’s dream. Her mom just tells her that her father can’t get the presidency without the Taekyung Group, so Soo-hyun will be remarrying Woo-seok.
On his way in to work, Jin-hyuk counts the building’s floors to find Soo-hyun’s office from the outside and wish her “fighting” from a distance.
Soo-hyun meets with Woo-seok to discuss how his mother is trying to make Jin-hyuk out to be a stalker and get him fired. She asks him why he never married Soo-ah, the girl he divorced her for. He asks if she’s bothered that he’s still single, but she says she doesn’t care, only that she doesn’t like the talk of them reconciling.
Instead of taking her seriously, Woo-seok is amused that she had a ramyun date at a rest stop, so she warns him not to be flippant. He promises to do his best to put the brakes on his mother, agreeing that Jin-hyuk hasn’t done anything wrong, though he’s not convinced that it’s as innocent as Soo-hyun claims.
But he says he can’t do anything about the plans for them to remarry, adding that neither of them has ever had any real control over their lives. Soo-hyun tells him that that makes no sense but that she’ll trust him, and leaves. He says out loud to nobody, “When will I become a man who makes sense to you? If I tell my mother how I truly feel, it will become harder for you.”
Driver Nam and Director Kim have another convenience store beer after work. Driver Nam thinks that Soo-hyun’s father must be worried about her, but Director Kim grumbles that he’s terrible for using his daughter for political gain. Driver Nam, Congressman Cha, and Director Kim’s brother used to be reporters together, and Director Kim talks wistfully of the old days when they were like the Avengers.
With a sigh, Director Kim admits that she hired a private detective to follow her husband, who she thinks is cheating. The thought of it upsets Driver Nam so much that he stops eating his ramyun and stalks off.
The next morning, Jin-hyuk’s younger brother JIN-MYUNG (Pyo Ji-hoon/P.O. of Block B) shocks the family by showing up unexpectedly after being discharged from his army duty. Hilariously, there’s not enough breakfast for him, and Mom wails that next time he should tell her when he’s discharged.
When Jin-myung hears that his big brother got a fancy new job, he hits him up for money. Dad tells Jin-myung that he expects him to work in the store, and he angles for a raise, making Mom quip that she hopes he has a second son exactly like himself someday.
Soo-hyun learns that some art that was supposed to arrive for an exhibit isn’t coming, and Secretary Jang can’t reach the artist. It’s a huge blow, because they’ve been planning this exhibit for two years. Secretary Jang says that she thinks Chairwoman Kim is behind the artist’s sudden disappearance, and Soo-hyun decides to visit the artist in person and find out what’s going on.
She passes Jin-hyuk in the lobby on her way out of the office, and she barely gives him a nod. He gets that worried look on his face again, and Hye-in growls at him to mind his own business. Driver Nam invites Jin-hyuk to lunch later, and although he watches Jin-hyuk closely, he barely mentions Soo-hyun.
The missing artist is on a trip according to his assistant, but Soo-hyun senses that she’s not getting the truth. She tells Secretary Jang that she’s going to stay in the area for a few days in the hopes that he returns, looking forward to taking a little break from work.
Woo-seok talks to his mother about Soo-hyun, as he promised, asking her to leave Jin-hyuk alone. He argues that it could make the scandal worse if Jin-hyuk is made out as a stalker and fired, but Chairwoman Kim just says he’s a nobody who doesn’t matter. She says that she finds Soo-hyun arrogant, and hopes that this knocks her off her high horse.
She tells Woo-seok that it’s already settled that he and Soo-hyun will remarry, but he refuses. His mother correctly guesses that he hasn’t remarried because he’s been hoping Soo-hyun would come back to him. She asks why he’s willing to let that hope go, so Woo-seok says that forcing Soo-hyun back would be pointless.
Chairwoman Kim claims that she doesn’t want to force Soo-hyun back because she’d only sulk. She wants to make her come back on her own by proving that she’s not the hotshot she thinks she is, and that she’s better off as Woo-seok’s obedient wife.
She says that once Soo-hyun’s hotel is gone, she’ll soon come crawling back to Woo-seok. In a hard voice, Woo-seok tells his mother to leave Donghwa Hotel alone.
The hotel where Soo-hyun decides to stay for the weekend hasn’t opened yet, but she says that she likes the quiet atmosphere. In her room, she turns on the TV only to see reporters discussing her scandal, so she turns it right back off again.
She calls her father to apologize for the problems this scandal will cause his campaign, but he apologizes for making her live in the spotlight. He tells her sweetly not to worry about him and just to take care of herself.
Secretary Jang sends Driver Nam to take Soo-hyun a suitcase of her things, and he takes it upon himself to call Jin-hyuk and say they need to take a little business trip. Soo-hyun is out taking a walk when they arrive at her hotel, so Driver Nam leaves Jin-hyuk to wait for her while he runs a personal errand.
Jin-hyuk heads down to the beach to take some photos, and when Soo-hyun spots him there, he’s obviously thrilled to see her. Soo-hyun says that Jin-hyuk must be shocked by the news articles about them, but Jin-hyuk says he’s mostly shocked by people’s mean comments about her.
He gives her a copy of the photo he took of her, saying that she’s much prettier in person, along with a book of poetry that he likes. Soo-hyun notes that he’s very well-read, and he explains that he spent a lot of time alone as a kid since his parents worked their store, so he’d kill time at the library.
Driver Nam calls Soo-hyun to say that he’ll be a while, so Jin-hyuk suggests they go for a drive. As they drive along the coast, Soo-hyun notes that Jin-hyuk speaks in a unique way, probably because he reads a lot. She says a little sadly that she thinks the food they ate in Cuba was better because they were in Cuba, but Jin-hyuk grins that that’s nonsense.
They stop for coffee and potato rice cakes, which they both say their fathers love. Jin-hyuk jokes that they have a lot in common, but Soo-hyun says that’s going a bit far just for some rice cakes, so he cheerfully takes it back. He tries a rice cake and says that it’s his first time having them, then gives Soo-hyun a little scare by saying, “It’s our Day One…” but he means him and the rice cakes, ha.
He mentions that she and Driver Nam seem close, so she tells him that Driver Nam and her father used to work together at a broadcasting station. She says he’s someone both she and her father trust, unaware that instead of helping a friend like he claims, he’s currently sleeping in a restaurant after enjoying a huge meal.
Driver Nam finally wakes and calls Soo-hyun to ask if she enjoyed her time with Jin-hyuk… oops, he means he’s sorry for making them wait so long. They happen to be close enough to see him, and Soo-hyun gives him the stink-eye until he confesses that he just ate dinner.
Woo-seok wants to buy a dress that someone has already put on hold, so he purchases several dresses for the store manager in exchange for selling him the one he wants. He calls Secretary Jang, who says that Soo-hyun is in Sokcho on business and warns him not to go there.
Driver Nam tricks Jin-hyuk and Soo-hyun into playing a game on the beach, where you put a stick in a pile of sand them take turns scooping sand until the stick falls. While they play, he calls Soo-hyun’s father to report that she seems to be doing well in the wake of the scandal.
Her dad says that when Soo-hyun was little, she always wanted Driver Nam when she was upset. But as he watches Soo-hyun and Jin-hyuk playing like children in the sand, Driver Nam grins that he doesn’t think he’ll be the one she looks to for consolation anymore.
Jin-myung whines his way into a job at Jin-hyuk’s friend Dae-chan’s restaurant, ignoring Dae-chan whenever he tries to fire him. Hye-in comes looking for Jin-hyuk, and she frowns when she hears that he’s supposedly on a business trip. Jin-myung agrees that it’s weird and wonders if Jin-hyuk has a girlfriend, and Dae-chan jokes that Jin-hyuk only dates books.
Driver Nam offers to stay with Soo-hyun until she finds the artist, but she says she’s already sent food to his house for his father’s memorial day tomorrow. Jin-hyuk tentatively asks if he should stay, then retracts the offer at a sharp look from Driver Nam. Soo-hyun says she’s fine alone.
Driver Nam takes her sleeping pills, leaving her only one just in case. Jin-hyuk suggests she listen to the radio to help her sleep, and she dismisses both of them.
Jin-hyuk seems down on the drive back to the city, so Driver Nam tells him not to worry about Soo-hyun, who’s used to being alone. Jin-hyuk wonders if she’s alone because she likes it, or if she just doesn’t have a choice.
He gets home around 3 a.m., turns down bouncy Jin-myung’s offer of ramyun, and goes to bed listening to the radio. The DJ plays a song for a caller who said they were lonely, and Jin-hyuk perks up to hear Si Llego a Besarte by Omara Portuondo — the song he had Soo-hyun listen to by the ocean in Cuba.
He correctly guesses that it’s Soo-hyun, who’s still awake and reading the book of poetry he left her. She reads his favorite poem, which says:
There are roads I want to take when I’m told not to.
There are people I want to see when we agreed not to.
There are things I want to do more when I’m told not to.
That is life and yearning.
That is you.
Jin-hyuk pounds on Dae-chan’s door until he wakes up and lends Jin-hyuk his truck. He drives all the way back to Sokcho, where Soo-hyun finally fell asleep on the sofa. He fidgets nervously as he waits for her to open the door, and when she does, he looks like he has no idea what to do now.
When Soo-hyun asks why he came back, he blurts out that there’s a hangover soup restaurant nearby that he wanted to try. He seems to realize how transparent he’s being and ducks his head, missing Soo-hyun’s knowing smile.
When she agrees to eat with him, he looks so relieved, awww. Soo-hyun insists on riding in the battered old truck, and Jin-hyuk jumps in first then offers her a gentlemanly arm to climb in.
As they leave the hotel parking garage, they pass Woo-seok on his way in. He learns that Soo-hyun must be out and goes looking for her.
Soo-hyun tries the soup and tells Jin-hyuk that it’s not good enough for her to understand why he came all this way. She asks why he really came, so he confesses that he heard the music they listened to together on the radio. He asks her straight out, “What should our relationship be?”
She hesitates, then says that they’re just employer and employee. Jin-hyuk nods, disappointed, and says that he also thought about why he was traveling so far to see the CEO of his company, when he’s normally so responsible. He admits that their relationship seemed unclear, but that truthfully, he missed her.
So far I’ve been able to believe that what Soo-hyun and Jin-hyuk feel for each other is nothing more than a sort of instant friendship and caring brought on by their shared experience in Cuba, and that it’s mostly been platonic. I don’t think that either of them were expecting or even wanting something more complicated than temporary companionship. But as soon as Jin-hyuk realized the depth of Soo-hyun’s loneliness, I think it got a lot more serious for him. If what’s happening is romantic, it’s still very early, but there’s an undeniable connection between them that seems deeper than romance — as if they’re kindred souls who just took a while to find each other.
It was so sad to see Soo-hyun pulling back from Jin-hyuk when they finally spent some time together after the scandal broke, when you know it’s mostly because she worries about dragging him into her problems. And I liked that Jin-hyuk had kept a respectful distance until then, understanding that he needed to wait to hear from her first, and only running into her when they both got tricked by Driver Nam. In fact, so far this show seems to use a lot of familiar tropes, but executes them in unusual ways — the accidental meeting that’s orchestrated by a well-meaning father figure, the gender-reversal of the chaebol/Candy dynamic, the still-hung-up ex who actually opposes his overbearing mother’s plan to reunite him with the heroine.
Soo-hyun is particularly fascinating to me, because despite her cold-chaebol outward appearance, she’s obviously a warm, thoughtful person, and I’m so glad that her employees know this about her. Despite being surrounded by luxury, she’s not too good to ride in an old taxi or a van covered in restaurant advertisements, or to be seen with a man in beat-up sneakers. She genuinely seem to enjoy these experiences and even seeks them out when she lets herself relax, which you can see Jin-hyuk loves about her. He’s constantly taking her for humble food in humble restaurants, and I like that he seems to feel it an honor to introduce her to these simple things instead of being ashamed that it’s all he can afford.
Speaking of interesting characters — at first I thought that Woo-seok was going to be a typical spoiled chaebol who’s only concerned with getting what he wants, but after this episode, I think he’s a lot more complicated than that. His comment that he and Soo-hyun have never been allowed to live their own lives was very telling… I get the sense that he’s probably very smart and capable, but that he’s given up on making his own decisions because of his overbearing mother. When Woo-seok said that things would be harder for Soo-hyun if she knew how he truly feels, I guessed before his mother confirmed it that he’s still in love with Soo-hyun, which would definitely make it harder for Soo-hyun to be independent if she knew. I’ll bet that he never married his mistress because he still loves Soo-hyun, though it’s still unclear why he asked for the divorce in the first place. After Soo-hyun and Jin-hyuk themselves, I’m the most eager to learn more about Woo-seok, because I have a feeling that he’s much more than he appears. So far he’s on Soo-hyun’s side, but I’m scared that once he realizes that Jin-hyuk is a real threat, that could change.