Our couple is now contractually obligated to date for six months, and as with everything else for these two, their first date is eventful, to say the least. Our hero and heroine start to learn more about each other, but if they’re going to have any chance at a real relationship, they have a long way to go. And our hero’s going to have to learn to keep his hands to himself while he’s at it.
EPISODE 3: “A Problematic Man: This is cheating, you know”
After finalizing the terms of their contract relationship (Da-hyun insists on a written contract—smart move) Da-hyun and Jae-in head outside, where he saves her from an oncoming car wth a quick embrace, which he releases her from instantly. “I didn’t do that on purpose,” he informs her. He tells her she’d better keep her word, and she replies that of course they both must, extending her finger for a pinky promise. He folds her finger back down without a word and leaves.
In her bedroom, Da-hyun writes “King of all devils” on her calendar—she’s agreed to meet him once a week as part of their bargain, and wonders if she’s done something crazy. What if he’s a pervert? But, thinking of her idol oppa Ji-soo, she decides to give it a go. Noting down her dinner plans with Jae-in for that Saturday, she looks down at the long, handwritten contract and reflects, “I don’t know if I can trust that man.”
Jae-in takes his own copy of the contract to Lawyer Park, who asks who Ji-soo is. Jae-in says he doesn’t know, but this is what the “teacher” wanted most, and she’s sent Jae-in to get the contract notarized since she doesn’t trust him. Lawyer Park smirks at Jae-in calling Da-hyun “Teacher” and observes that she’s a formidable woman.
Jae-in snorts that she’s a shrewd fox, and tells Lawyer Park not to make a copy of the last page. His friend protests, saying she has a right to know that Tae-ha is a marriage candidate too—does Jae-in realize he’s asking him to commit an illegal act? Jae-in says she already knows he’s not a good guy, and he doesn’t want her to find out about Tae-ha.
We see our two leads’ typical workdays; she heads home on the bus after school, but he works late, has meetings into the evening, then goes to the gym at night. Morning comes, and Da-hyun arrives at work to be greeted by teams of workers fulfilling all her playful requests to Jae-in about improving the school. There’s even a k-pop star sized mirror in the dance practice room, which Da-hyun, shocked as she is, happily uses with her students that afternoon.
Afterward, she rushes to meet Jae-in at his hotel, pausing before she goes in to check her appearance in the window before reminding herself that she doesn’t need to look pretty for him. She apologizes for being late, and thanks him politely for everything he did at the school. He says he’s merely kept his promise, and she has to do the same.
Da-hyun says six months should fly by, and Jae-in replies that today is only the beginning—what does she want to do? She’s unsure, so he suggests a concert. There’s a cultural festival at his hotel that he has to attend anyway. Da-hyun wrinkles her nose and suggests going out to eat instead. He says they can just eat at the hotel; they have a decent Japanese restaurant. Da-hyun declines, saying the food there isn’t worth the price, and brightly suggests pork belly instead.
Cut to them sitting and being served precooked pork belly artfully arranged on a plate, much to Da-hyun’s dismay. Jae-in is at a loss as to why she’s unhappy. She says pork belly tastes best when you grill it yourself—you can’t even smell the meat in this restaurant! He says his clothes can’t get smelly, and Da-hyun settles down to eat, wrapping some meat in a lettuce leaf and stuffing it in her mouth. Jae-in watches her, amused.
He tells her a lawyer from his company is working with Ji-soo, and she says she knows. He’s surprised as this only happened yesterday—is she that close with the singer? She says she’s “Ji-soo Oppa’s” fanclub president, so of course she knows. “Did you just call him ‘oppa?’” asks Jae-in. “Isn’t that kid like 21?” Da-hyun informs him that as long as a guy is handsome, he’s an oppa. He looks a bit taken aback, then looks down at his plate and asks with a small smile, “Am I an oppa too, then?” Haha.
Later, they head to the concert hall together, but when Jae-in opens the door for her, Da-hyun asks him if she really has to go in there. He asks what’s wrong, and she says uncomfortably that the performers seem quite famous, and her hair and clothes are so casual. He replies matter-of-factly that it’s not so bad that it’s a total embarrassment.
She says she’s really not into classical music, which is when Jae-in leans in and says, “I actually hate pork belly.” He drops to banmal as he adds, “We ate what you wanted, so isn’t it fair that we do what I want to now?” Da-hyun says she’s worried about what will happen in the next two hours, and he retorts that he’s worried about the next six months, and impatiently coaxes her out of the car. (Interestingly, he calls her dangshin (darling), which is both less formal than calling her Teacher and is also often used between married couples.)
He pulls her in by her arm, but he drops it when he sees all the reporters in the lobby, telling her he has to greet some people. She wanders away and picks up a couple of stuffed animal charms, when he suddenly comes by and gives his card to the cashier, saying they have to get to the show. Da-hyun protests, saying they’re a gift she wanted to buy herself, but they’re already paid for, and he drags her off to the hall by her wrist (again). He ignores her dire declaration that she warned him.
As they walk in to take their seats, Tae-ha and his parents spot them from across the hall. His mom asks if Jae-in has a girlfriend, and Tae-ha smirks slightly. A reporter walks in with a camera, and Jae-in’s eyes widen. He tells Da-hyun to pretend she doesn’t know him. She scoffs that he said she wasn’t an embarrassment—he should have told her in advance they were going to a concert if he cared that much.
He says that’s not it, but she’s happy to leave and gets up. He grabs her arm and pulls her back down. He looks again at the reporter, and she pulls her hand out of his grasp. He sighs and says he warned her, so this is all her fault. She mutters that she has no idea what he’s talking about and that she’s always hated classical music concerts anyway, but stays seated.
Grandpa asks Lawyer Park what the status is with the new couple, and he says Jae-in had plans to meet Da-hyun today. Grandpa orders Lawyer Kim to tell Jae-in that if he’s simply killing time with Da-hyun and not taking this seriously, then he’s going to introduce her to Tae-ha.
As the concert progresses, Da-hyun begins to doze, until her head falls back with a slight snore, waking her up. She tries to stay awake, but her head keeps nodding forward. Jae-in looks around to see if anyone has noticed before glaring at her. Her head starts to tilt toward him, so he ever-so-smoothly pulls it down to rest on his shoulder, but she startles awake. He puts his arm around her and covers her mouth in panic, until she realizes where she is and calms down.
Noticing his arm around her, she tries to remove it but he won’t budge. “What are you doing?” she whispers. “People are watching!” He snaps back quietly that that’s exactly what he wants to say, and forces her close to his side. If she’s curious to know what he’ll do next, she can try falling asleep again.
“Wh-what will you do?” she stutters. He smiles, and whispers in English, “Close your eyes, and I will kiss you.” He leans in as if to do just that, and she snaps out of her daze and shrugs away from him. “Don’t you dare touch me,” she says. “Don’t you dare fall asleep,” he returns. They sit back in their seats, and he mutters to himself, “Ugh, how embarrassing.”
Later, Da-hyun watches an opera singer perform, seemingly transfixed, and Jae-in smiles in what looks like genuine delight at her absorption. After the show ends, she waits at a distance again as he meets various business acquaintances. Tae-ha’s family approaches, and Jae-in’s aunt asks him directly who Da-hyun is. Jae-in tells her she’s someone he’s meeting for business. Aunt pries for more details, but he cuts the conversation short. As they leave with Da-hyun looking peeved, Tae-ha observes them, a slight smile appearing momentarily on his face.
Da-hyun tells him she wants to go somewhere and talk—there’s something she left out of the contract. Jae-in thinks it’s related to his request to Lawyer Park to leave out the bit about Tae-ha, but she wants to talk about something else.
“Skinship,” she tells him in a coffee shop. If she wants to do it, she can go ahead, according to Jae-in. Da-hyun scoffs. “Oh, but we we should wait a little longer before sleeping with each other,” he says.
Da-hyun chokes on her coffee. “You’re crazy! Did I ask to do that?” she sputters with foam on her lip. He wipes it off. She tells him he’d better not lay a finger on her, which he says is not a problem for him. They’re actually dating, after all—there should be some progress. If she didn’t want this, she shouldn’t have signed the contract. He adds that she can just go ahead and pay for breach of contact then, and he can make it so that her beloved idol never sings again. (Ugh. Really?)
“Is that a threat?” asks Da-hyun in disbelief. He smiles and says no, and that they’ll take things slowly. Unless of course, that’s not what she wants. Her phone rings, and she looks for it in her purse, but he finds it under a napkin and hands it to her. She gives him a dirty look and answers.
It’s her mom, wanting to set up another date for this Saturday. She waivers, and Jae-in takes the phone, introducing himself by name and saying that he’s seriously dating Da-hyun, identifying himself as “that guy from last time.” He even promises to officially introduce himself to her. Da-hyun grabs the phone with a, “It’s Da-da,” and promises Mom she’ll explain later.
Da-hyun turns to him after hanging up and asks what he thinks he’s doing. He asks her who Da-da is, and she tells him he doesn’t need to know. (Aw, is that her nickname?)
Meanwhile, Da-hyun’s mother excitedly tells her husband about their daughter’s new man, and wonders what he does for a living. They want an Oriental doctor for a son-in-law, so they can leave Dad’s practice to him and all live in one house together after she marries.
As Taa-ha arrives home with his parents, his father tells him to find out who that woman was with Jae-in, and if she has anything to do with Grandpa. To his father’s retreating back, Tae-ha asks, “Is that all you care about?”
At the coffee shop, Jae-in asks again who Da-da is. Is it Da-hyun? She tells him he’s really annoyingly stubborn, and admits that yes, it’s her. He asks eagerly why “Da-da”—is it because she runs around, dadadada? (He hilariously acts out running with his fingers on the table.) He declares that it suits her. She tells him it’s not for him to use, but he calls her “Da-da” with exaggerated affection, telling her that they should use nicknames since they’re dating.
Da-hyun whines that he’s making her skin crawl. She asks if he’s doing this because he’s old, to which he snaps that he’s not old, he’s only thirty-two and in his prime! She says fine, whatever, but why is he speaking more and more informally to her? He replies, “I’m six years older than you. I’m old, you know.” And then he nyah-nyahs at her like a little boy. She scoffs and takes another sip of her drink, and when he tries to wipe the foam from her lip again, she grabs the napkin and does it herself, glaring.
Grandpa sits with Employee Kang, wondering why he hasn’t heard from Jae-in about Da-hyun. Employee Kang says this will probably end the same way as every other relationship Jae-in has had—he’ll date her for a while, sleep with her, then once the woman becomes clingy, he’ll drop her. He never really falls in love. The old man asks how he knows this, and Employee Kang points out he was the one who filed the reports Grandpa always requested.
When Jae-in and Da-hyun arrive near her place, she takes out the stuffed animal keychains he bought for her earlier, a pig and a bunny. She gives him the bunny, which has his initials on it. He’s bemused for a moment at the gift, then exchanges with her—since they’re dating, he says, it’s more meaningful to have each other’s initials. She protests, but he says he paid, so he’s the one giving the present.
When she doesn’t leave right away, he asks if he should come in for ramyun. Cue howling wolf sound effect. She tells him not to be ridiculous and thanks him for half of today—the Ji-soo half, not the threatening her half. She says it’s thanks to his grandfather, and although she doesn’t know him, she asks him to thank him for her. He stops her as she’s exiting the car, grabbing her wrist again, and asks if she really doesn’t know Grandpa. He’d like her to reveal the truth now.
Da-hyun asks if Jae-in was born mistrustful or if he was emotionally damaged as a child. She tells him not to imagine fantastical situations tonight and get a good night’s sleep; he’s old, after all. Once he drives off he notices the piggy keychain he claimed for himself; it still has her key on it. He grins in delight before catching himself.
Da-hyun doesn’t realize she’s missing her key until she gets to her door and takes back off down to the street, wondering if she should call him. He’s waiting with her key in hand, and she runs over, thanking him. He doesn’t give her the key, saying that although it’s a bit fast for the first date, he’ll give in and stay if that’s what Da-da wants. She asks what he means. He says that since she left the key on purpose to seduce him, he can’t be rude and ignore her efforts.
Da-hyun splutters that it was an honest mistake and grabs for the keychain, but he keeps playing keep-away with it. She jumps for it, ending up with her arms around him, and both stop moving. Jae-in moves the keychain down behind his head, and she follows it down with her eyes until they’re staring at each other. He kisses her lightly on the lips, and smiles down at her.
Okay, let’s get this out of the way first: Lee Jae-in needs to go to Wrist Grabbers Anonymous and get himself on a treatment program. The man has a serious problem with grabbing Da-hyun without her permission and taking her where she doesn’t want to go, or keeping her where she doesn’t want to stay. I wish she was more proactive about telling him off for it, but I’m glad she’s been consistently taking him to task for his physical aggressiveness. I get that she’s trying not to make a scene in a public place by waiting until they’re alone before confronting him about his behavior, but that kind of consideration is only warranted maybe the first time. After that, in my book it’s, Take your hand off unless you’re ready to lose it. Still, I like that she lets him know that it’s not okay, and that he needs to keep his hands to himself, even if she’s not violent about it.
The most egregious case of him crossing the line is, of course, him forcefully restraining her with his arm and threatening to kiss her if she fell asleep during the concert, but that was (slightly) mitigated by their conversation in the coffee shop afterward. It’s clear he has a very different idea than Da-hyun about the kind of physical contact that is accepted and expected between a dating couple, and as far as he’s concerned, he was operating within those parameters. Of course, then he pushes it by saying she’s free to break the contract if she doesn’t want skinship with him, and threatens to ruin Ji-soo’s career.
He immediately backed down when she called him out though, saying they’ll take it slow if she wanted, which makes me wonder how much of his threat was serious, and how much of it was him teasing her in the most offensive way possible. I wondered the same at the end of the episode, when he’s teasing her with the key. It’s hard to be totally sure, but I don’t think he really expects that she wants him to spend the night with her—it’s just an excuse to spend more time with her and to make her get exasperated and flustered, which he obviously loves to watch. He’s awful, but he may not have awful intentions.
It became clear in this episode that Jae-in has a crush on Da-hyun, even if he hasn’t admitted it to himself. He’s far more invested in the contract relationship than she is; while she takes it as a legal agreement, he’s treating it as a real relationship (it’s hilarious to me how many times he reminds her that they’re dating). He starts the episode as a reluctant suitor, but as early as the beginning of their date in the hotel, you can almost see his fascination with her blossoming. It’s in the way he watches her so intently, alert for her every reaction to his words, or the way he lights up like a little boy when he teases her about her nickname. It’s in his insistence that she come with him to the concert at work, which he obviously could have gone to himself after dinner; I have a feeling even his skittishness about reporters photographing them together was more for her sake than his.
My favorite moments of the episode were the subtle ones where he showed his appreciation for her in ways she didn’t pick up on, but which are obvious to the audience. Like the pleasure he showed when she finally began to enjoy the concert, or his tiny amused smiles at the enthusiastic way she ate her food or told him off. I find those little moments far more moving than the typically swoon-inducing cliches at the end of each episode, because they’re signs of his growing affection for her, and they indicate to me that he’s probably going to fall in love with her while she remains largely indifferent. And I love that dynamic with a hero who needs this much work, because it means that rather than the heroine trying to reform the man she loves, we’ll get the guy trying to become a better man so he can be worthy of her. Now that’s true romance.