Oh My Ghostess: Episode 3
Encountering her father and brother in the police station has jogged Soon-ae’s memory, and we see that in the past, her family’s restaurant was a bustling business, with customers lining up outside the door. Everyone had called her “Daughter” and she’d treated the ajusshis with affectionate bickering, singing for them when they insisted.
Now, Soon-ae-in-Bong-sun’s-body goes back to the restaurant with Dad, who carries drunk Little Bro on his back. It’s emotional for her to take in the familiar surroundings, and she holds back tears while eating the dinner Dad prepares for her. Everywhere she sees things she’d nagged him about when she’d been alive; we know poor hapless Dad has been struggling without her, and it’s evident in every corner of the restaurant.
Dad thanks Soon-ae for helping his son and insists on giving her cab fare home. Hurrying out, Soon-ae looks around the neighborhood with tear-filled eyes, recognizing everything as memories of the friendly neighborhood shopowners flood back to her. Forgetting herself, she speaks familiarly to one ajumma before realizing that she isn’t recognizable in this body.
As Soon-ae walks by the police station, she remembers how she used to deliver lunch to the officers—and how she’d taken extra care with Officer Sung-jae’s, sneaking an egg into his rice bowl. Aw, cute. She thinks that he’s still as warm as ever: “Everything else is the same, but why am I the only one not here? With all these memories, why did I die?” She still can’t recall the moment she died, and she wonders what happened.
The next day, Dad drinks alone in his empty restaurant as the chef battle program plays on TV. He recognizes Soon-ae (well, Bong-sun), as well as the dish she’d made out of Sun-woo’s burned rice—that rice soup that Dad no longer serves, Soon-ae’s specialty.
Over at Sun Restaurant, the assistant chefs watch the episode and call Sun-woo a genius for coming up with such a dish when he doesn’t even eat rice, and praise Bong-sun as a natural. Of course, bratty sous chef Min-soo is still bitter about losing his shot at TV fame and grumbles about it, but everyone else is impressed.
They wonder where the boss is, and we see Sun-woo watching the episode on his phone, nitpicking the camera work and puffing up in satisfaction to see how well he came off. Then a passing cyclist stops to ask a question, and he assumes she’s going to ask for an autograph before realizing she just wants directions. Hee, his ego is hilarious and embarrassing.
Soon-ae hears that the restaurant received free specialty gloves from a sponsor and sneaks a pair out to give to her father, whose own pair is falling apart. She assures him that it’s a free sample and asks permission to look around his kitchen, sighing to herself to see the sad state of affairs. She adds a splash of soda to Dad’s kimchi, and he marvels at how it tastes just like his daughter’s—he hadn’t known the knack of getting that taste.
She asks about his daughter, but Dad merely says she’s gone “far away.” Then he insists on popping out for something to offer his guest, and Soon-ae looks around the living area, nearly in tears again to see that Dad has left her room exactly the same.
That’s when her brother Kyung-mo finds her and asks what she’s doing, eyeing her with suspicion. She rolls her eyes and snaps back, and it’s only when Dad tells Kyung-mo to thank her for helping him home last night that he very grudgingly does.
Soon-ae takes issue with her rude kid bro and makes digs at him for getting drunk and not helping his father around the shop. They’re firing back insults about being unemployed losers when she realizes the time’s gotten away from her, and she runs out to make it to work while promising to come back.
That she does, dropping by regularly to deliver supplies he badly needs, saying they have too much at her restaurant. Dad’s bewildered, but grateful.
Sun-woo decides on a caviar-based dish for today’s special, and is confused when he can’t find it in the refrigerator. Uh-oh. Assistant chef Dong-chul hesitantly mentions that little things have started to go missing lately.
Soon-ae runs into Officer Sung-jae as she’s leaving another visit with Dad, and he walks with her and notes that she’s bonded with the ajusshi. Soon-ae sighs happily to herself that it must’ve been fate for her to get stuck in Bong-sun’s body, since it’s allowed her to see her father and also Sung-jae. She just barely resists grabbing his hand, while he says he had her pegged wrong, thinking her very shy and introverted.
He leaves her with a standard “Be careful on the way back,” which Soon-ae thrills over like it’s some huge gesture. Giddy with excitement, she skips along and whirls in circles—and for one split second, we see Soon-ae’s spirit flash out of the body. Hm, is that just to remind us it’s Soon-ae, or are we looking at possible ejection?
Dad doesn’t know what to do with all of Soon-ae’s supplies, unable to refuse them but feeling weird about using them. Bro Kyung-mo is much more suspicious, saying she’s gotta be up to something, like a scam of some sort. He warns Dad to be wary of women, who can be scarier than ghosts.
Soon-ae arrives at the restaurant to find the staff lined up before Sun-woo, who talks in a calm, reasonable tone that’s frankly scarier than yelling outright. He says he would have lent money if needed, or praised someone for taking a few ingredients to practice on, but can’t abide this theft. Especially with expensive caviar, even if the rest of the pilfered items were laughably cheap.
Soon-ae catches the drift of this lecture belatedly, and when Sun-woo asks for a confession, she starts to speak up. But sous chef Min-soo speaks up first, to suggest that they’re all trustworthy and that this kind of inquisition will cost them much more in loyalty than the money they lost in a bottle of soy sauce here, a pair of gloves there. He’s just about quaking in his boots as he suggests that they all work a little harder to make up for the loss, and solve the problem that way.
But Sun-woo just smiles knowingly: “It’s you, isn’t it?” Min-soo denies it but can’t look Sun-woo in the eye, and that just confirms it for Sun-woo. So Min-soo comes clean (at least about the caviar), admitting that he brought a girl here and cooked something up to impress her, and had intended to replace the ingredients. He swears that he didn’t steal the other things, which of course is unconvincing in these circumstances, and Soon-ae tries to break into the conversation carefully.
But the argument escalates, with Sun-woo calling Min-soo a thug, and Min-soo getting defensive, and suddenly other grievances start pouring out. Like how the chef favors everyone else, how he’s hard to work for, and how Min-soo sucked it up for the sake of teamwork and how he feels crazy for sticking it through when he’s not even appreciated. It ends with Min-soo saying he has other places who’d love him, and Sun-woo yelling at him to go then.
Min-soo flings off his apron and storms out, saying, “Be healthy, and Chef, for the love of god develop some humility.”
This has gone farther than anybody meant it to go, but Sun-woo’s not about to chase after Min-soo. Soon-ae chases him down to try to placate his temper and offers to go after Min-soo, but he warns her not to dare.
Soon-ae’s medium unni goes to another medium looking for Soon-ae, but gets nothing useful since that lady’s a quack. On her way out, though, she runs into Sun-woo’s mother, who tries to hide rather than get caught for two-timing her shamans.
Over lunch, the medium unni tells her it’s okay, since she’s the best anyway. Mom’s surprised to hear that she’d be looking for anyone when she’s supposed to be able to see things, but medium unni whispers that she’s looking for a ghost.
Despite the hard stance, Sun-woo feels bad about Min-soo quitting and talks it out with the dog he swore he wouldn’t keep feeding. He says defensively that the kitchen will hardly fall apart without one sous chef, but back inside for dinner service, things are a mess without someone keeping on top of all the orders. Customers get impatient waiting for dishes, and things take longer now that they have to make up for Min-soo’s tasks.
Sun-woo calls a friend to ask for any sous chef possibilities, and is surprised to hear that his reputation for being difficult will probably keep them away. Just then, Kyung-mo arrives wearing a dark face, asking if Bong-sun works here. He leaves a box for her with the message that she can keep her pity to herself, and if she’s angling for money, they’re broke.
Sun-woo looks through the box and yanks Soon-ae aside, asking for an explanation. Hearing her string of curses (directed at her brother), Sun-woo looks at her in bewilderment, asking what’s wrong with her these days, and what her relationship is to that family. Soon-ae starts explaining about how sad the restaurant is, and how the daughter died and the son is useless and she wanted to help.
Sun-woo is incredulous at the sideways logic and asks what she’s going to do about Min-soo, and she points out that he was the one who lost his temper and wouldn’t let her go after him. Through gritted teeth, Sun-woo says they’ll keep this between them, and he’ll take care of Min-soo.
Min-soo is having a rough time of it himself, having picked up work at the family car wash, where he gets screamed at by his brother/father/uncle and called an idiot. The passenger window rolls open, and he gapes to see Sun-woo sitting there, asking if he left the restaurant for this kind of abuse. Aw, neither is very good at this whole reconciliation thing but it makes it extra heartwarming when Sun-woo gruffly orders Min-soo in, and to leave the filthy rags out of his knife-wielding hands.
Min-soo flings the rags away, gets in the car, and curls up to Sun-woo’s chest promising to do better. Aw, you boys.
Sun-woo brings Min-soo back to the restaurant, where he announces to the staff that they’ll just forget today ever happened. They’ll put aside today’s events and move on, and he offers to take them all out for dinner afterward, saying he hasn’t been as attentive to them as he should have been.
They’re heading out the door when Sun-woo’s mother barrels in with the medium unni, drunkenly slurring about how the medium came to see Sun-woo in person. Soon-ae sees Unni first and ducks behind the boys, shuffling out carefully. But Mom calls her out, asking for some water, and Soon-ae holds her breath hoping not to be spotted.
Unni looks around the restaurant and finds it full of oddly mixed energies. One look at Sun-woo’s face and she’s certain that he’s a strong ghost magnet, which Sun-woo dismisses out of hand. He heads out, and Unni tells Mom to let him go; if he doesn’t believe, then talismans and spells won’t do anything for him. Soon-ae jumps every time the medium speaks to her, but to her relief, she doesn’t cotton on to anything strange.
The mood is lively as the staff drinks together that night, and when Min-soo asks for a loveshot with the chef, the others cheer them on until they drink from a full-on bro-hug. Min-soo even feeds Sun-woo and links arms, saying he’s so grateful that the chef extended the olive branch first… but really, honestly, he didn’t steal the other supplies. Sun-woo reminds him that they agreed not to speak of any of that anymore, and Soon-ae hurriedly raises a toast to change the subject.
A bit later, Soon-ae makes her way down the stairs and sort of lets herself fall into Sun-woo’s arms—he assumes she’s super drunk, especially when she leans into his chest and sighs how nice this is. Poking a finger into his chest, she gets super flirty and affectionate as while chirping at him “Chef! Chef! Chef!” as he backs himself into a corner.
But then he receives a phone call that has him suddenly worried, and he pushes Soon-ae aside to hurry off. He cabs it out to meet his PD friend So-hyung, who’s pulled over at the side of the road, badly shaken after swerving to avoid a cat.
The party continues amongst the assistant chefs, who by now are totally drunk and still drinking. Min-soo speechifies about how he couldn’t leave his kids and how he’ll die here with them, and Joon adds that Bong-sun really pushed for the chef to reinstate Min-soo. That warms his heart so much he calls her awesome and insists she call him oppa, and she’s only too happy to comply.
The five of them stagger out of the restaurant with their arms slung around each other’s shoulders, and Soon-ae cajoles, “I wanna go to Oppa’s house!” Ha, by now they’re all her oppas, and they each take turns saying why they can’t take her home. When Joon wants to disentangle from the group huddle, they slur at him that they’re all family now.
Eventually they head their own ways, and Soon-ae comes up to her father’s restaurant just as he’s closing up. She sighs that it was nice going out with people, eating and drinking together, and has bought Dad some soju so they can have a drink together. She adds that it was disappointing when he sent her gifts back, and he says that his son tends to be wary of people.
Dad asks for a raincheck on the drinks, though, since he’s heading out to eat with his son. Soon-ae angles for an invitation along, but Dad asks kindly for her to stop bringing gifts, because they feel burdensome. But she’s welcome to eat anytime she likes.
Soon-ae heads home in disappointment, sighing that it makes sense since Dad doesn’t know who she is. She perks up to see Sung-jae at the police station, but is surprised to recognize Eun-hee next to him in her wheelchair. She hadn’t realized Sung-jae had gotten married, and is crushed to hear him call Eun-hee wife.
So-hyung apologizes for calling Sun-woo out of his dinner, and explains that she’s sensitive about animals—she doesn’t even like receiving flowers or plants, “because I don’t like things coming to me and dying.” Must be lingering trauma from their dead friend.
They part ways as she heads in, and So-hyung notes that he’s cold for not even turning back to see her. But as she heads up to her apartment, Sun-woo does turn back, waiting till her light flickers on.
In a flashback, we see them in their university days, when he’d watched her nodding off in the library from a distance. But when he’d went to buy them drinks, he’d been disappointed to see that she’d already gone. Later, his friend had asked for his help preparing an event for his girl… and Sun-woo had looked crushed when So-hyung had walked in.
“That’s when I realized,” Sun-woo narrates, “that love isn’t sad because people miss each other, but because they miss their time.”
So now, Sun-woo heads off alone, walking in the rain.
So does Soon-ae, who catalogues her situation neatly: “Officer Choi is married. The wife is Eun-hee, I’m dead, and this body isn’t mine.” She sighs that this is all reasonable stuff, that life moves on for those who don’t die. She looks at her reflection in a window and thinks, “Yes, I’d confused myself for a moment. I’m not Na Bong-sun, but I’m not Shin Soon-ae either. I’m just a ghost. Just a maiden ghost with lots of regrets mooching off the body she’s possessed.”
When Soon-ae arrives at her gosiwon, she finds her bags packed for her and out in the hallway. Her room already has a new tenant, and now she finds herself out in the park with no money, credit cards, or place to go.
Bong-sun’s grandmother calls to check on her, worried that Bong-sun’s sending her all of her money every month. Grandma tells her to eat well and remember to burn her incense, and Soon-ae guesses that Bong-sun must’ve been quite devoted to her. She pokes around Bong-sun’s things and finds a cosmetic bag filled with sample sizes of things, and it makes her think of how she’d done the same, using samples and scrimping.
Soon-ae sighs, probably to the both of them, “There’s no reason to live like this. We’re born once and die once—we should use what we want and do what we want! We should date, two-time, and three-time! We don’t know that if you save it up, it just turns to poop.”
With nowhere else to go, Soon-ae takes her bags to the restaurant, machete and all, and quietly slips inside. She heads up the stairs and looks through the window—Sun-woo has just stepped out of the shower and is walking around topless. She enjoys the view for a moment, then slips back downstairs… where she’s startled by a ghost.
She suggests that the ghost find another place to stay, and when the ghost growls at her, she concedes that they can share the place. Soon-ae tries for the peaceful angle first, but when it seems the ghost is spoiling for a fight, she grabs the machete and supposes they’ll have to have it out.
She brandishes the blade and warns the ghost to beware, but then the ghost summons a burst of energy to force the blade away. It slams into some kitchenware, which falls over with a crash. The ghost poofs away, and upstairs, Sun-woo is reminded of the medium’s warning that this place is full of ghosts.
Park Bo-young has always been wonderful, back to her sageuk child actress days, but I’m extra glad to get a full-length drama series out of her, especially since she does mostly films and lost a couple of years of work when she was embroiled in agency legal disputes. I love her in general but especially in this character, and it cracks me up to watch all her bubbly scenes with Jo Jung-seok, because if you watch him exclusively it’s so obvious that he’s on the brink of laughter at any moment. You can see he finds her adorable (who doesn’t?) and it almost feels like Park Bo-young is trying to get him to break character by being so funny.
This role really works for her because she’s got such a facility with the whole emotional spectrum, which is crucial here as she takes Soon-ae from one end to the other in the blink of an eye; one second she’s drooling over half-nekkid oppas, and the next she’s angry and wistful over the loss of her young life. I do actually want to see more of her playing Bong-sun, though, because while that’s the less interesting (or funny) performance, I want to get a chance to see things through her eyes. Soon-ae’s the wacky, entertaining character, but Bong-sun is our heroine too, and I hope the show remembers that.
It’s why I still have reservations about the story premise, because the longer we stick with Soon-ae in the driver’s seat and don’t get to see Bong-sun, the more concerned I am that there’s a fundamental flaw in the setup. While I’m open to the drama surprising me (and hope that it does), I can’t imagine that they won’t end with Bong-sun back in charge, soul and body united, while Soon-ae presumably finds a way to move on. So we really do need a way to connect to Bong-sun directly, and not just through secondhand experiences, especially if the romance is to work out.
We’re still so early in the show that I’m not raising the alarm bells yet; it’s just a concern that hasn’t been put to rest yet. I was encouraged and touched when Soon-ae got angry at both Bong-sun and herself for not living her life fully, and I hope that signals deeper connection between them. I want something more than “their frequencies are identical” to explain the bond, and if Soon-ae can find meaning in both of their lives, that’ll be a uniting purpose.
I did like where we ended this episode, because I’m itching for Sun-woo to have more of an involvement in the ghostly storyline rather than remaining oblivious the whole time. It’s funny how entertaining a drama can be despite a lack of plot development, because I was surprised when I thought back to consider how much we’d moved forward and found we hadn’t, really—Soon-ae found out a few things about her life, but not much more. I can’t say I minded because I loved it all, especially the unexpected bromance between the chef and his sous and the restaurant family bonding, but I also wouldn’t mind pulling our story out of the past and pushing ahead to live in the present moment.
It’ll be interesting to see how Sun-woo’s relationship with ghosts figures into things, and what that matters to the bigger story. It provides another point of connection for him and Bong-sun, though the key difference is that Bong-sun is sensitive to their presence and acknowledges their existence, while Sun-woo is (fortunately) immune because he doesn’t believe. For now, at least; perhaps the medium’s certainty will shake something loose. In the meantime, I hope Soon-ae continues to jostle the composure out of him, because she throws him so off-kilter, and an off-kilter ego king is all sorts of comedy.