Why is it that when one obstacle is vanquished, there are always a dozen new ones waiting to rear their hairy heads? Lies and secrets abound, but we still get to enjoy a little candid bickering and a few mental farts to remind us how far we’ve all come, and how far we’ve yet to go. But when the lies threaten what you care about most, can the truth set everyone free without taking any hostages?
EPISODE 22 RECAP
Hwa-shin leaves Dr. Geum’s office, and Nurse Oh follows to give him his forgotten phone. For the first time, she looks at him in sympathy.
Na-ri continues to wait for Hwa-shin at the restaurant. He meets his mom outside it, and tells her he didn’t invite his girlfriend after all. He says he wanted to play a little hard to get, in case she thought he liked her more. Mom says he should like his girl more, and tells him to invite her even now.
But Hwa-shin demurs, and asks Mom if she wouldn’t be sorry to lose him. Not a bit, Mom says in exasperation—she can’t wait for a wife to take him off her hands. She gets even angrier when he asks if he should just live alone, and tells him to go beg his girlfriend for forgiveness if he wronged her. “I don’t want to,” Hwa-shin blurts.
Having sent Mom away, Hwa-shin enters the restaurant alone. But he only lingers outside the private room where Na-ri’s waiting, although we see that he straightened her shoes. From outside, he phones her to say he can’t come because of some unexpected work. She cheerfully tells him not to be sorry, and he watches her leave with sad eyes.
So the night finds him in a pojangmacha with Dong-gi, singing dolefully while drinking away his blues. Dong-gi figures he got dumped, and asks if the rumor that he’s dating Na-ri is true. Hwa-shin replies with more dispirited singing.
A rattling wakes Na-ri up, and she finds Hwa-shin at the door. He lurches inside without invitation and plonks down on Na-ri’s bed. Smelling the alcohol on him, she tries to get him to leave. She tugs at his arm, but he just smiles beatifically up at her.
Instead of answering her stream of questions, he burrows into her bed and tells her to go to her own house. Laughing, she tells him to stop pretending he doesn’t know he’s in her bed, and deposits him on the floor, where he sits laughing.
But sobering, Hwa-shin tells her that he had their compatibility horoscopes read: “Even though I dislike it, I’m not interested in it and I don’t believe in it, because it was you, I wanted to see it. I was curious about whether I was a guy who could make you happy.”
She happily pesters him for what he found out, and he finally tells her, “[She] said we won’t have children.” He asks if it’s okay if they don’t, and Na-ri grins that she wants to be a good mom, and reminds him how much he likes kids, too.
Looking heartbroken, he asks her why she likes him. She says it’s because he’s manly. “Apart from that?” he asks. “There’s nothing else apart from that,” she laughs. He asks her if she’s okay with a man who has breast cancer and can’t have kids, “I’m a man, right?”
Touching him lightly, she reminds him he’s had his cancer treated already, and as for the horoscope, they’ll visit different fortune-tellers until they find some who augur loads of kids for them. She doesn’t understand what the problem is, or why he looks so, so sad.
Ja-young runs around the station the next day, hiding from Sung-sook, and jumps when she suddenly appears at her desk. Sung-sook asks if she returned the money without getting caught, and guesses that she spent the night hiding in Hwa-shin’s wardrobe with Chef. Sung-sook confidently assumes nothing happened, and Ja-young doesn’t refute her, although her memory of the kiss plays on the TV monitor behind them, ha.
On the morning news, just before she’s due to do the weather, Joo-hee she doubles up in pain. Everyone runs to her, including Na-ri, although she insists she can continue. Announcer Uhm realizes it’s her appendix, and she’s taken off the set.
PD Oh wants to cut her segment but Na-ri argues that the weather is news, too, and they have to broadcast an important weather warning that just came out. To everyone’s shock, she volunteers to do it, and PD Oh warns her that she has to make it back to her seat for the closing immediately after. Jerk partner Announcer Park helpfully snarks that she might lose said seat altogether.
Na-ri does the weather confidently. Hwa-shin arrives in time to see it, while at Rak Pasta, Chef and the kids watch in surprise. At his own place, Jung-won smiles at the sight. But Na-ri doesn’t make it back to the desk in time, and Announcer Park closes alone, also doing Na-ri’s line. PD Oh has a meltdown (again).
“Hey. Are you an anchor or a weathercaster?” Hwa-shin asks Na-ri, “Do either one or the other!” She bows her head, and he turns away in frustration. When she returns to the desk, Announcer Park jerks her chair away.
Announcer Park slyly supposes that she could quit anytime since she’s sick, and says his wife (you mean someone married an ass like you?) saw her getting treated at the breast cancer clinic. He promises to keep quiet if Hwa-shin apologizes to him on bended knee.
Hwa-shin notices Park’s attention fixed on Na-ri and comes up to the desk. He tells Park to focus on his own shortcomings instead of bullying his hoobaes. After Park leaves, Hwa-shin asks Na-ri what he was saying, but Na-ri says it was nothing.
Announcer Park drops by Dong-gi’s desk, casually asking if he heard about Na-ri having breast cancer. The rumor spreads like a disease, Dong-gi whispering it to PD Oh, and PD Oh dropping it to Announcer Uhm who mentions it to Sung-sook who tells Ja-young, who’s overheard by Soo-jung.
Na-ri follows Hwa-shin out of the building with an umbrella against the heavy rain, and scolds him for not paying heed to the news she risked her job to convey. They head into his car, and Na-ri confides how happy it makes her to finally be able to give him an umbrella like this.
Leaning closer to him, she says that it’s so gloomy and rainy outside, no one can see into the car. She cheekily angles for a kiss, and he gazes at her like she’s the sweetest thing alive, a half-smile on his face.
But then he turns away and tells her to leave. She cajoles him instead to go with her and get a new horoscope reading now but he remains firm in his refusal. Glumly, she takes her umbrella back and gets out, and he drives away.
Hwa-shin visits the hospital urology department this time, and the doctor tells him that there’s nothing else wrong, but in his present condition, he won’t be able to father a child. He says it’s possible that the radiation therapy played a part, but it’s such a rare case that they can only wait and see. The doc adds that smoking and drinking could also affect it.
Hwa-shin finds himself at a bench with Dr. Geum and Nurse Oh. He asks them not to tell Na-ri. Full of sympathy, Doc assents. Sliding closer, she asks if he’s going to break up with Na-ri, or marry her, or date her, and he answers no to everything, saying instead that he’ll do everything. Dismayed, Dr. Geum pleads rather overdramatically with him to get mental help. Hwa-shin laughs darkly that he should just visit every department while he’s at it.
Nurse Oh cuts in to give him a prescription (for the cancer), and Doc tries to make him feel better by telling him he’s the manliest man she knows, accompanying it with a cheesy impression. She comes to sit by him again, and tells him not to isolate himself or think bad thoughts.
“I want to be alone and I want to think bad thoughts,” Hwa-shin tells her. He says he’s embarrassed and confused, and even the camera lens seems to mock him. And if she ever tells Na-ri, he’ll jump in the river. Dude, I think you do need to see a professional. Dr. Geum is clearly out of her depth, and eagerly assures him that she won’t say a word.
Na-ri marvels at the now-clear weather on her rooftop. She catches Hwa-shin’s mom leaving his place and they exchange pleasantries. She asks if Mom’s had lunch, and that’s how they end up frying kimchi pancakes on Na-ri’s rooftop. Mom praises Na-ri’s cooking, and complains that Hwa-shin only likes bland food.
After a pause, Na-ri asks what kind of daughter-in-law Mom wants, and Mom says warmly that it doesn’t matter as long as Hwa-shin likes her. Na-ri’s eyes shine at this reply, and then Mom asks if it’s going well with Jung-won. Tell her you broke up!!! Na-ri says no, but I don’t know why Mom doesn’t register this properly.
Hwa-shin pulls up at the broadcast station, but immediately leaves again. In a dessert shop, he asks for aallll the ice cream and cake, and in a supermarket, he piles two trolleys high with what must be a thousand packs of ramyun—minus two, which he tears a packet open to remove.
Next stop is Jung-won’s store. He empties the rails of shirts, and glares belligerently upon Jung-won’s arrival, yelling, “I have money, too. You think I can’t buy it?” With a strangled shout, he orders out more. “Everything is mine,” he yells. Coming nose-to-nose with Jung-won, he says Na-ri is his, too, “I’m the only one who is a man to her.”
Na-ri visits Joo-hee in the hospital and finds all the weathergirls there. They’re happy to see her, and she admits that she enjoyed doing the weather again. Joo-hee tells her about Announcer Park spreading rumors about her having cancer, but they’re shocked when Na-ri says it’s true. She’s fine now, she adds, but Mi-young worries that the company won’t take her on full-time because of it.
Hwa-shin makes a last stop at a baby shop. Pointing at the display, he growls fiercely at the assistant to give him everything. “Please give me everything,” he repeats, voice lowered to a shaky whisper.
He deposits everything in front of a surprised Na-ri, and tells her it’s all for her. She can tell something is wrong by looking at him, but he denies it. Blunt and agitated, he says sorry, for not being able to do what other men do.
“I don’t have the right to receive your love,” he tells her. He asks her again why she likes him, and she says it’s because he’s so cool. “Can you live without me?” he asks, “I can’t live without you.” Na-ri smiles at the confession, although the whole conversation has her a bit confused.
Ja-young sneaks out of bed that night to tryst with Chef, who has to bluff his way past Dae-goo. (What exactly is their relationship, by the way?) He sneaks into the restaurant, and Ja-young slips in soon after.
Sung-sook wakes screaming from a nightmare, “No! Don’t do that!” Hahaha, I think it’s too late. Ja-young’s absence surprises her, and she pads downstairs to look for her. She peeks through the restaurant blinds, but then flies out in shock. Wondering if Chef’s drive has been revived, she curses her luck for not being the one to get stuck in a wardrobe with him. “I’m lonely,” she wails, even as the wail turns into a cough.
In the elevator the next morning, PD Oh mentions the breast cancer rumor to Hwa-shin. Surprised, Hwa-shin at first thinks he’s talking about him, until Oh tells him to take care of Na-ri.
Meanwhile at the studio newsdesk, Na-ri tells Announcer Park that it’s true she had cancer, and she’s completed treatment, too. She gives her word to be at her seat every day on the dot, and adds, “Having breast cancer isn’t a sin, after all.” He sneers because he’s a toerag, amazed that Hwa-shin went with her to a place like that.
PD Oh tells Hwa-shin that HR have gotten wind of the news, meaning it’ll be tough for Na-ri to become a permanent employee. Striding out of the elevator, Hwa-shin goes straight to Na-ri and brings her to their stairwell. He’s furious and horrified to find out she already knew about the rumors.
Na-ri is confident that it won’t affect her employment, and says that if she doesn’t make it, it’ll be because she lacked ability. She tells him to leave the story as it is. “What am I doing to you right now?” he asks desperately. Na-ri reassures him that a woman having breast cancer is no big deal, and his eyes soften.
Madam Kim’s heard the rumor, too, and Jung-won tiredly tells her that Na-ri’s not the one who’s sick.
Na-ri finds Hwa-shin alone after hours, and he tells her to stop the charade now, as he plans to reveal the truth tomorrow. Na-ri tells him rather menacingly that she’ll kill him if he does that. “Then I’ll die,” he replies. She says she’ll break up with him, and Hwa-shin agrees: “Yes, let’s end it.”
Shocked, she pleads with him to just let the story stand, and tells him how happy she was that his secret kept her by his side. Even now, he asks, when she’s the subject of everyone’s gossip? “Yes, even now,” she maintains, and says that the lie that it’s her is a thousand times better than the truth that it’s him.
She even threatens to go back to Jung-won if he doesn’t listen, and says she needs to see him as anchor every day, to help her swallow her food. “You can’t do it,” she warns. Hwa-shin finally says, “I want to stop being sorry to you now.”
Now alone on the station rooftop, Hwa-shin stares over the edge of the world. Noooo what are you doing?!
The next day, he’s back to see Dr. Geum, and he asks her for her help. Next, he goes to see PD Oh, who’s poring over some personnel transfers, wondering why no one wants to go to Kenya for a year. Ooo I’ll go! Hwa-shin asks him if he can do a field report, since he feels stifled being behind a desk all this time. Before leaving, Hwa-shin asks, “They’ll forget in a year, right?” Forget what, PD Oh asks nervously. “Everything,” says Hwa-shin. Ominous.
In the canteen, Hwa-shin joins Ja-young and Na-ri. Ja-young asks Na-ri if she’s okay, and is both impressed and proud of Hwa-shin for standing by her. But when he tries to reveal the truth, Na-ri covers his mouth to stop him, and tries to send him on his way.
Before his news, Hwa-shin calls his mom to send her on an errand, clearly to make sure she’s not watching whatever he’s got cooking. He demands a fish stew even though Mom is out of fish, and she grimaces as she agrees. Lol, poor long-suffering Mom.
Na-ri enters the station foyer in time to see Hwa-shin’s news, and halts in shock at the male breast cancer headline. Unable to wait for the elevator, she runs up the stairs, arriving at the studio just as Hwa-shin introduces his in-depth report.
He talks about how male breast can affect anyone, with up to 1% of breast cancer patients being male. Na-ri shakes her head, whispering, “No…” and at home, Hwa-shin’s mom watches after all, eyes filling.
Reporting from the hospital, he cites the case of “Mr. Lee”, whose cancer was discovered early by someone, whom Hwa-shin describes as a lifesaver. We flash back to Na-ri first feeling Hwa-shin’s chest in Thailand, and how she chased him afterwards. Dr. Geum features next, and she tells how men avoid treatment because they find it difficult and embarrassing to be in a clinic full of women. Off-air while the reel plays, Hwa-shin looks across the studio at Na-ri, who shakes with silent tears.
In the reel, Hwa-shin shows the mammography machine, explaining that it’s more painful for men. At home, Mom reaches for a handful of tissues, crying her eyes out. He then shows the bra they need to wear after surgery. With each thing he mentions, flashbacks show us Hwa-shin’s own experiences—the pain of the mammogram; his shame at being caught in a bra.
He wears the pink hospital pajamas for the next part of his report, and explains that people point fingers at male breast cancer patients, calling them strange. Nurse Oh recounts seeing a male patient’s girlfriend cover up for his treatment by using her own name. Hwa-shin continues that a male patient feels like he can’t tell the truth to anyone, but the hardest part is that his masculinity feels eroded.
While his report plays, Hwa-shin gives Na-ri the tiniest smile, before focusing on the camera again. “Although it may be hard to believe, I am also a breast cancer patient,” Hwa-shin says. He calls himself a miracle case thanks to his girlfriend, but speaks of his despair, and how he was sure he’d lose his anchor position if he were found out.
But he says that he discovered that more important than protecting his job, was protecting the person he’d lost his heart to: “This moment, I don’t have an ounce of regret. I’m only sorry for saying it so late.” A male breast cancer patient is a cancer patient all the same, he says, and hopes that with his report, the stigma can be addressed.
“I hope for our country to be a place where minorities can also be happy,” Hwa-shin finishes. Gazing across the studio floor, his eyes find Na-ri’s. He gives her a nod and a smile, finally unburdened, as the others in the studio realize the truth, too.
(During the credits, you can enjoy a hearty dance number with Hwa-shin and his hospital homies, Dr. Geum and Nurse Oh. Hee! Park Jin-joo is such a pixie!)
Aahhhh. For the first time in weeks, I don’t feel hopelessly divided against myself in twelve directions. I agree with Hwa-shin on this one: The lie is not better than the truth. And in this case, the truth really does set him free. I can see why Na-ri wants to keep the story the way it is, but I can also feel how untenable that is for Hwa-shin, who already hates himself most of the time. He already feels he doesn’t have the right to be loved by her, but if maintaining that cover causes her to lose her job, he wouldn’t forgive himself. But I love how the lie served its purpose, giving him cover while he developed the personal strength to shoulder the consequences telling the truth would bring. On Na-ri’s side, the lie is what allowed her to stay by his side, so if anything, the lie is their Cupid, and its job is done.
I’ve got to say this, though: I found Hwa-shin’s report a bit hyperbolic for news. But what was more distracting was the overblown way in which the doctor delivered and handled the news of Hwa-shin’s current infertility. Even allowing for dramatic license, I couldn’t help feeling irritated at the directing choices that made it come off more as a lack of professionalism. I know the character’s been walking the line all series, but this time, the comedy felt forced, in what was more important as an emotionally weighted moment. It’s unexpected when this show has so consistently (and deliciously) undercut its own gravitas with sly and sudden humor, but I guess we can all have bad days!
Is Hwa-shin overreacting to the infertility news? I think in some ways yes, and other ways no. Firstly, they’ve said it isn’t necessarily permanent (and I’m fairly sure that the show will let Hwa-shin have his dream in the end). But even if he can’t father children of his own, he has options, and given time, he’ll be able to adjust his expectations of life.
But at the same time, I understand how upset he is: For the first time, he allowed himself to really want something, the worst irony being that it was such a humble, everyday dream that most people can take for granted. Not only does he have to face the possibility that it won’t happen, but he has to break it to Na-ri, too. Hwa-shin would see that as one more thing that makes him unfit and undeserving, one more way he’s less of a man. Although his outlook is more dire than it needs to be, I can see why he asks the question, “Am I really a man?” He disappoints his own conception of what he should be and do, and it makes it a nice reverse that this time that he’s the one who needs security and reassurance from Na-ri.
But I’m reassured that at least they’re more solid as a couple this time. I don’t think he’ll try to nobly break up with her or anything…at least, I really, really hope not. There aren’t enough episodes left for that kind of angst! But on the downside (or upside? I can’t decide…okay, I’m still slightly divided), I’m certain we’re being set up for a time-skip and a separation, and I generally really dislike those. But in this case, I wonder if it’s something of a needed perspective for both of them, and a realistic outcome in terms of Hwa-shin sacrificing his position. It’s time he needs not only to recover from his treatment, but also to center himself.
As importantly, perhaps the time apart will give the couple a chance to take further steps towards some much-needed equality, because there is a power and status disparity between them, which was really made evident in last week’s crisis. Although it’s an unavoidable consequence of working the same job at the most opposite levels, that’s not to say their relationship can’t happen while those disparities exist. But they would certainly need to figure out how, since it’ll be a long time before their job experience levels.
It’s actually an interesting layering of their relationship, when you consider how the sunbae-hoobae relationship was their starting point. Their subsequent friendship fit more easily around their existing work dynamic, but the romantic relationship complicates things because the power disparity matters so much more, especially when they’re both so acutely aware that Hwa-shin holds more of it. One way or another, it needs to be addressed.
Overall, this hour felt like a slow and deliberate winding-down, and although we’re so close to the end, I have no idea what to expect next week. Keep surprising us, show! But not by breaking up our babies. That would not be cool.