Episode 1: Things That Drive Her Crazy
33, a dating novice, and still unmarried, Oh Dal Ja is a modern day woman with an overactive imagination and a yearning for true love. After being cooly dumped by a co-worker (whom she’s had a crush on for 8 years) for another woman they both work with, she hires Kang Tae Bong to help her save face.
Episode 2: Can Love Be A Business Transaction?
Dal Ja continues to try to avenge her pride as rumors of her being dumped circulate around the office; she and Tae Bong apply new terms to their contract; Dal Ja has lusty feelings toward Tae Bong.
“Do you think I’m doing this for love? It’s not because of love. It’s for my pride. If it really was love… then I wouldn’t for a moment have felt this bad or my pride so trampled. You might wonder what’s so great about pride, but for me? For me, pride is important. Because I’ve come this far holding onto one thing, and that’s my pride. To be at this age without a man, I’ve endured stubbornly holding onto my pride.” Oh Dal Ja
Episode 3: A Romantic Inquiry Into A Fateful Encounter
Dal Ja meets her “fated love,” the man who meets all of her requirements in terms of looks and status, under unfavorable conditions, leading him to think of her as a frivolous “loose” woman. Seon Joo dumps Sae Do, leaving him bewildered.
Episode 4: There Was A Prince, But
Dal Ja has a date with her “fated love,” Eom Ki Joong, and finds him boring, but still attractive. A woman accuses Dal Ja of being an adulterer; Sae Do suffers from impotence; Tae Bong advises Dal Ja to be honest and she in turn reveals she’s afraid of rejection.
Episode 5: Her Stance on Dealing With an Unsuitable Relationship
Dal Ja must decide whether or not to break things off with Ki Joong, whose wife publicly begs her not to wreck their marriage; Sae Do and Dal Ja take care of Seon Joo when she calls in sick; Tae Bong sweetly comforts an insecure Dal Ja. Tae Bong is finally caught by his pursuers and Ki Joong’s wife threatens to commit suicide if Dal Ja doesn’t end the relationship.
It’s in this episode that Seon Joo and Dal Ja really start to become good friends, and it’s one of the best things about this show: women who are friends and not romantic rivals. TV drama lover Dal Ja starts out seeing Seon Joo as her “enemy” but Seon Joo immediately sets her straight in that vague but resonant way of hers by saying, “Do you think a woman’s enemy is another woman?” In their friendship they give each other professional and emotional support, dating advice, they defend each other to others, they share clothes, and they even work together to help another woman. I also love that Dal Ja becomes good friends with Sae Do, who she used to have a crush on. It goes against the whole notion of a man and woman not being able to be friends. They’re ridiculous and hilarious together.
Episode 6: The Show Must Go On!
The higher ups threaten to fire Dal Ja for damaging the company image and bringing financial losses; Seon Joo defends and comforts her; we are introduced to Tae Bong’s family and his troubles with them; Ki Joong’s wife continues to harass Dal Ja. Seon Joo and Sae Do become emotionally closer.
Episode 7: Actually, All The Heart Needs Is 2% Humidity
Dal Ja is demoted and overeats because of stress; with 10 days/30 hours left of their contract and Dal Ja busy with work, Tae Bong decides to follow her instead and his romantic feelings toward her start to show more overtly–they end up spending the night at a motel; Dal Ja encounters hardships and finds fulfillment in her new department at work.
Episode 8: Lack of Love’s Adverse Effect on an Old Maid
Dal Ja tells Tae Kang off for interfering in her life, but afterwards feels guilty about possibly hurting his feelings and misses him when she can’t get in contact with him. Meanwhile, Tae Bong deals with his emotionally clingy mother and meets with the mysterious Hee Yeon. Dal Ja goes on a date with Ki Joong, Sae Do’s father comes for a visit, and Dal Ja and Tae Bong fight and reconcile.
“Why are you so late? Have you had dinner? I haven’t. …It’s over, the contract. For the next month, will you be my girlfriend? No change to the terms of the contract: three hours a day for a month. Only some rules will be changed. Skinship is a basic service. IF deeper skinship is desired, then we’ll go according to how we both feel. If one of us starts to develop personal feelings, then we’ll really date. How is that? Not bad, right?” Kang Tae Bong
Episode 9: The Weight of a Brick
Tae Bong moves in with Dal Ja; Seon Joo runs into more debt trouble because of her ex-husband and we learn more about her past; Ki Joong becomes hilariously insecure in his courtship of Dal Ja; Tae Bong finds work at Dal Ja’s mother’s restaurant; Dal Ja and Tae Bong help Seon Joo when debt collectors harass her.
“To protect ourselves, to make ourselves look stronger from the outside, in the deepest corner of our hearts, perhaps there is a brick wall embedded within? As we grow older the brick wall grows sturdier. This makes it difficult for us to accept another person. It also makes it difficult for us to be accepted by another person. In the end, we will lock ourselves within the brick walls. Will we become lonelier? Perhaps loneliness is more bearable than pain itself?” Oh Dal Ja
Ha! I love how Dal Ja is always late to work. Lover her so much.
Episode 10: Always Remember, We’re By Your Side
Ki Joong finds out Tae bong is living with Dal Ja and his wife finally signs the divorce papers; Tae Bong’s mother and grandfather search for him; Dal Ja and Tae Bong work out living with each other; Sae Do grows frustrated of his relationship with Seon Joo. Dal Ja and Seon Joo help Team Manager Kang when her son falls sick; Tae Bong’s father meets his first love–Dal Ja’s mother.
Episode 11: Laws of Dating are Action and Reaction
Dal Ja’s Grandmother finds out about her granddaughter’s living situation; Kang To’s father meets with Dal Ja’s mom; Dal Ja is transferred back to her former postition; Manger Kang becomes head of the MD team and makes things harder for Dal Ja, Sae Do, and Seon Joo.
“How can you tell? How can you tell if it’s love or not? Just because your heart races, doesn’t mean it’s love. Just because you miss the person, doesn’t mean it’s love. There isn’t someone there to draw the line and say, ‘this is where love starts!’ How do you know if it’s love or not?” Oh Dal Ja
I kind of cannot stand Sae Do here. He’s so insecure and always mixes up his personal and work lives. It would be fine if it only affected him, but he’s being passive agressive with Seon Joo and addressing their relationship with incomplete and incorrect knowledge. What’s unforgivable, though, is that he doesn’t see the threat to her professional life and undercuts her professional efforts, subsuming them into their romantic relationship with no regard for what Seon Joo is trying to accomplish. He’s hurt because of his own misunderstanding sand conjectures, and he lashes out and hurts Seon Joo on purpose. I just want him to take a seat way, way in the back.
Episode 12: To Us, A Beautifully Romantic Reason
Dal Ja finds out about Hee Yoon and that Tae Bong works for her mother; Seon Joo confronts her new show host; Seon Joo and Sae Do reconcile; Ki Joong reads mangas to learn more about women; Tae Bong’s father is an asshole; ladies take other ladies on as their protégés, yay!
“You’re pretty, too. You’re pretty when you smile and laugh a lot. You’re pretty when you frown so easily. You’re pretty when you get embarrassed. And when you get shy. At times, you’re pretty when you’re naive. At other times, you’re pretty when you act like a lady. The way you are now, you’re already pretty enough.You’re pretty because you know how to get goosebumps when you hear such cheesy stuff.” Kang Tae Bong
Episode 13: Happy Valentine’s Day!
Seon Joo finds out that she’s pregnant and decides to have an abortion; Dal Ja is flustered by her attraction to Tae Bong, which makes her act awkwardly around him; Ki Joong’s ex-wife asks Dal Ja a favor and Tae Bong’s mother spies on her ; Dal Ja’s unnie has to work overtime because her husband ran off and has a pregnancy scare.
Episode 14: It’s OK If You Are Not A Superwoman!
Sae Do finds out about Seon Joo’s pregnancy; Ki Joong falls apart after Dal Ja rejects him and his
creepy ex wife comes back into his life; Tae Bong’s dad continues to visit Dal Ja’s mother; Dal Ja and Tae Bong kiss–and more; Seon Joo continues to be flawless.
“Since the Supermen started hanging up their capes, there are starting to be more and more Superwomen. In the form of a superior in the workplace. In the form of a wife. As a woman. As a mother. And they have their own superpowers so they can keep their small part of the world happy.” Oh Dal Ja
Hrmph…I really don’t think Dal Ja should have any say in whether or not Seon Joo decides to have the baby, especially if Seon Joo never asked for her advice. And she shouldn’t have decided to tell Sae Do, especially when Seon Joo specifically asked her not to say anything.
Episode 15: Like Spring, Love Nourishes My Heart
Dal Ja is confused and awkward after sleeping with Tae bong and goes to her unnie for advice; Seon Joo decides to break up with Sae Do; Dal Ja gives Sae Do some good advice that makes her consider her own romance; Dal Ja and Sae do take their respective lovers out for a date; Tae Bong’s mom confronts Dal Ja’s mom.
Episode 16: Love Sometimes Needs To Be Faithful
Dal Ja and Tae Bong deal with the fallout of her mother finding out that they’re dating; Seon Joo’s pregnancy starts to take a physical toll on her; Tae Bong confronts his father; Tae Bong’s mother visits Dal Ja’s office.
“You are a coward. You still lived with her for the past 30 years. The way you’re acting now, you’re being irresponsible and cowardly. The reason Mother became this way is 100% your fault. You know that? …Have you ever smiled at her warmly? Have you ever hugged her tightly? Did you ever tell her you love her? As I recall, you never did. You were always cold and uninterested. You were always annoyed with her, and you disregarded her. She didn’t get love from you, so of course she had to turn to me. That’s why she was so attached to me. You might gain respect from other people, but to me, you’ve failed as a man. You have no right to Mother. You want me to tell you another thing? The reason why I don’t want to stay home is not because of Mother, but because of you. I don’t want to become like you.” Kang Tae Bong
I love how Dal Ja’s Spring pokes fun at how it’s a kdrama–like how the rich, cold, handsome leading man type has to ready Candy, (whose titular character is the template for the stereotypical bubbly, hardworking kdrama heroine), in order to “learn about women,” and how here in this episode Dal Ja, with her romance-obsessed imagination fueled by TV dramas and shouju mangas, suspects that she and Tae Bong may be half siblings. And Kang To replies, “So, either you or me has leukemia and one of us dies?” Bahahaha. Dal Ja kind of reminds me of Catherine Morland in her way of using fiction as a guide for life. (Hmmm…that’s probably why so much of the music is classic, immediately recognizable stuff from Star Wars and The Terminator.)
I also love that Tae Bong doesn’t come into Dal Ja’s life cold and broken and “needing her love to make him human again.” He already knew he was miserable and was working on his happiness on his own when he met her, and when they’re together it isn’t about his tortured soul or her poor upbringing. Their isn’t anything particularly heroic about Tae Bong, but he’s kind and conscientious, and just a little bit teasing without being condescending. Of course, his self-transformation came at the expense of another person–a woman–in the drama, (and he suffers from wrist-grabbing syndrome), but I still appreciate that it’s not an aspect of their romance. It’s refreshing that although they’re facing parental and possibly societal disapproval, they don’t use an undeniable, I-can’t-live-without-him/her love as the reason for their being together. Dal Ja’s TV drama-tinged longing for true love just makes it that much better. They just like each other and make each other happy, and that in itself should be enough. They’re calm. They communicate. They give the other emotional support. They aren’t star crossed lovers, theirs isn’t an epic love–and neither of them has cancer. They’re just two people stumbling along in life who find comfort and joy in one another, and it’s beautiful.
Episode 17: The Earnest Desires We Need To Throw Away When In Love (Part I)
Dal Ja and Tae Bong try different tactics to get their mothers to approve of their relationship; Sae Do gets an opportunity to go study overseas and doesn’t tell Seon Joo; Sae Do confronts Seon Joo about keeping her pregnancy a secret. (I think of this as a date episode.)
“Since when did women’s fantasies become shameful?” Oh Dal Ja
“Because at that moment, you were by my side. The moments when I was tired, when I was lonely, when I needed comforting from someone, when I needed a smile from someone, all those moments, you were by my side. You were there to comfort me, to hold me. So subconsciously like this, your smell just filled my breath. Wherever I go, whoever I meet, your smell is just there in my breath. Making my heart tingle for you, making me long for you more, making me more curious about you, making me want to be with you more. So here I am with you.” Oh Dal Ja
Episode 18: The Earnest Desires We Need To Throw Away When In Love (Part II)
Dal Ja and Tae Bong meet up with each other’s mothers after their week-long vacation ends on a sour note; Dal Ja’s mother asks Tae Bong to choose between Dal Ja and becoming a lunchbox shop owner; Sae Do asks Seon Joo a big question; Dal Ja meets with Tae Bong’s ex; Tae Bong gets another job so that he can raise funds to become a chef.
I like how in this episode Tae Bong tells Dal Ja about his past with Jang Soo Jin even before she asks him. It’s character consistency: back in episode 12 he told her that if she chose to be with him he would tell her everything she wants to know without her having to ask, and he does. Jang Soo Jin’s question here of whether or not he loves Dal Ja highlights the thoughts I had in episode 16, about how they both like each other and enjoy spending time together and that’s enough for them and should be enough for other people. When Jang Soo Jin asks him the question he responds with, “She’s warm and a good woman. When we’re together, it’s fun and happy.” Soo Jin takes that to mean that her feelings for Dal Ja can’t match what he felt for her. It’s an indication that troubled times are ahead for Tae Bong, who has been the stalwart one in this romance, and sure enough, this is the first episode in which he and Dal Ja sit down to talk and he just completely misunderstands her. Usually he’s pretty intuitive when it comes to Dal Ja, even when she’s trying to fool him, but here she’s doing her best to explain herself to him and he just can’t hear it. And he knows it, too, which is why he bangs his head against the door afterwards.
When her unnie tells her that Tae Kang won’t work somewhere that makes him unhappy, Dal Ja answers, “What world do we live in? You’re saying such useless things.Try getting bumped around by reality. Try seeing what it’s like to go without food or clothes, and live a hard life. What’s there to be choosy about?” For a woman who indulges in fairy tale-fueled romantic fantasies, Dal Ja is actually pretty realistic and pragmatic. That’s how she could consider Eom Ki Joong as a romantic partner, even after she realized she found him so boring. And it makes sense. Her father died when she was three and she and her family had to struggle to survive. Her mother said they had to live in the streets for 10 years before she was able to open the lunchbox shop. So Dal Ja is someone who knows what it’s like to have to scrounge for food, to have to manage to survive, as opposed to simply living. She has gone without food or clothes, she has lived a hard life. Things like having a secure future matter to her for a reason–she knows the drudgery of financial insecurity. Moreover, her mother is someone who worked hard specifically so her daughter will never have to go through those things again, and it’s probably something that’s been ingrained in her since childhood. Her unnie tells her Tae Bong could never work somewhere that makes him unhappy, but Dal Ja is someone who got down on her knees to beg to be kept in the same company she’s been working at for 8 years, even if they demoted her, someone who responded to being demoted (and getting a scary and overly demanding new boss) by saying that it’s her job, so she has to be happy in it. And we have to remember, Tae Bong’s grandfather is a loan shark and his mother spends her days shopping and getting massages. His whole life he’s been a golden wonder kid. He doesn’t know the things that Dal Ja does about not having money to eat.
Episode 19: What It Is to Live As a Man
A man comes to visit Seon joo, making Sae Do nervous; Dal Ja’s mother has a talk with Tae Bong; Dal Ja’s company is going through a merger; Dal Ja uses her savings to pay for her lease and Tae Bong’s classes; Tae Bong decides to go back to the law firm; Tae Bong’s father decides to treat his wife better; Dal ja and Tae Bong officially meet with one another’s parents.
Episode 20: What It Is to Live As a Woman
Dal Ja’s mother pressures her to ask Tae Bong about marriage; Sae Do tries to please Seon Joo’s father; tensions arise in Dal Ja and Tae Bong’s romance over his handling her company’s merger and working with Soo Jin; Tae Bong’s mother is a surprising delight.
“Dal Ja. Love needs trust. Just trust him.” Dal Ja’s Unnie
This show has always had a running theme of the personal and the professional running into each other. Team manager Kang tells Dal Ja that what happens at home should stay at home and what happens in the workplace should stay in the workplace; it’s her love affair with a colleague that gets her demoted; and now it’s her boyfriend who is working on her company’s merger, and her romantic rival is using work as a way to get close to Tae Bong. It’s a show about our heroine’s friendships and romance, but it’s also about how she handles being a working woman, about what it means to choose the less traditional path of having a career but still wanting a love life, though not marriage. I mean, Dal Ja is romance obsessed, but this is the first time in these 20 episodes that we see her have a fantasy about her wedding day…which turns into a nightmare about her romance and personal space being overrun by children. What she wants most isn’t a wedding proposal. She wants him to tell her he loves her. Her mother fears that it’s Tae Bong who doesn’t want to get married, but perhaps…it’s Dal Ja. At least, not on the terms she sees laid out before her.
I think it’s important to note that since joining the law firm, both Dal Ja and Tae Bong have been smiling less. It’s because his new job changes one of the most important dynamics of their relationship: the time they spend together. When asked if he loved Dal Ja, Tae Bong himself said that they have fun when they’re together. When Tae Bong asked Dal Ja why she likes him she told him it’s because he’s always there for her. With this new job Tae Bong is never around, and they don’t spend much time together. And the less time they spend together, the more Dal Ja wants to hear him say “I love you.” It’s so satisfying the way it comes full circle: he’s asked if he loves her and he responds that he enjoys spending time with her; when they start spending less time together she wants more than anything for him to say he loves her. I also took note of the fact that Tae Bong doesn’t take the bag of fruit she brought with her to the dinner and make a show of it. I feel like that’s something he would have done in the earlier episodes, when he was cheekier and showed his distaste for phoniness more openly .
I think the ending of this episode, with Dal Ja saying she’s tired, is perfect. We begin with her running a race, jumping over hurdles, only to come to the finish line to find that the last hurdle is after the line. So an episode that ends with fatigue starts with a race. (And the usually energetic Dal Ja is shown to be tired through out the episode.) Dal Ja is known in her office as the one who’s easy to bully, and it’s true. When others harass her she doesn’t actively fight back so much as she endures. She’s a patient person, which is reflected in her being a 33 year old whose never said “I love you” to a guy before. (Things like that are precious to her, she cherishes them.) She keeps things to herself and tries not to burden others. When something’s wrong she just laughs and says she’s ok. That’s the thing about her relationship with Tae Bong: he could deduce how she really felt and what she was actually thinking when she said something. He could always tell when something was wrong, and he always asked her. And here, when his job makes it so that he can no longer freely communicate with her, when he declares that he chooses not to tell her about Soo Jin, that’s when things fall apart. Instead of Tae Bong talking to her we get Soo Jin talking to her. So when our heroine, who takes everything others say and do to her and copes with it, has to sit through such an embarrassing, such a rude, such a belittling experience as that dinner was, it’s understandable that she wants a break. It’s a natural response for her.
Episode 21: People Unskilled In Love
Sae Do decides to stay in Korea, leaving the chance to study abroad open for Dal Ja; Dal Ja says goodbye to her friends and family and has one last dinner with Tae Bong; Tae Bong does the right thing by Handa Homeshopping and tells Dal Ja the words she’s been waiting to hear.
“Right now I don’t want to think about marriage with anyone. For the time being I want to live for myself, invest in myself, and do the work-study program.” Oh Dal Ja
Episode 22: Spring Comes Again! Flowers Bloom Again!
Our lovers reunite! Woohoo! Two years later and Seon Do has had her baby girl and is a neurotic mother (ha!); Dal Ja’s grandmother and mother are cute; Dal Ja and her mom are cute; Dal Ja and her friends/colleagues are cute; Tae Bong works on opening his own restaurant.
As long as one’s alive, nothing has ended. There’s no conclusion, So there’s no happily ever after either. There’s just starting every new day together.
What I like in romance in dramas is seeing our couple be together. The moment when they finally get together is great, but what I love and anticipate is seeing them interact, seeing them be in love–the idiosyncrasies of their relationship, the nicknames they have for one another, if they tease each other, who has the hotter temper. I am not a fan of having our couple revolve around each other with misunderstandings and no communication, and only get together in the very last episode with a little kiss. That’s what happens in these last two episodes, especially this last one, but thankfully we had 20 episodes of seeing Dal Ja and Tae Bong together, so I’m thoroughly satisfied. (Oh, and how sweet is it that Tae Bong’s the one who asks her to stay, that he’s the one to wait? It’s actually a trait of his–he waits for her to come home, waits for her to get out of work, and now waits for her to come back to Korea. Tae Bong once said he wanted to live life enjoying the present day and anticipating the future. That’s exactly what he does in working on his dream while waiting for Dal Ja. Definitely one of the better kdrama romantic heroes, right up there with Choi Han Gul, Hwang Tae Hee, and Park Chul Soo.) (Kim Boong Do and Lee Da Ren are in a class all their own.) Mmmm…a good, feel good show.