Oh My Ghostess: Episode 7
I love it I love it I love it. I was thoroughly enjoying this show already, but today’s episode takes everything to that perfect place—perfect in its balance of funny and heartfelt, heightening of stakes, growth of feelings, and approach to the conflict. As much as I loved the characters and feeling behind the show, there were little sticking points that kept niggling at me (mostly about the ghost-possession), which I mentioned in previous recaps. But I’m happy to report that with this week, I’ve hit that point where I’m ready to throw myself into the show fully and trust that it’s going to good narrative places.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
The medium unni tracks down Soon-ae in Bong-sun’s body, and Soon-ae runs for it. She somehow runs out of the body and her spirit self leaps into a passing bus, leaving Bong-sun confused to find herself in the middle of a sidewalk.
She runs into Sun-woo, though, who’s here to meet her for their not-quite-date and mock-scolds her for making him wait. She stammers an “I’m sorry,” which makes him note that Depressed Bong-sun is back, and she goes with that explanation.
Since the last thing Bong-sun remembers was the cooking show, she asks how the spilled flour problem worked out. Sun-woo thinks she’s angling for praise at how well she fixed things, and throws in some cooking tips while he’s at it. Then he instructs her to look up directions to the restaurant on her phone, and she’s startled to see that her wallpaper has been changed to the cozy selfie she took with him.
Soon-ae disembarks from the bus and looks around carefully for signs of the medium. She relaxes just as the medium swoops in from behind and grabs her, looking like a crazy person to the rest of the bystanders who can’t see the ghost she’s dragging.
At the restaurant, Sun-woo tells Bong-sun that food is like music and art—it’s about more than just eating. He has her taste the food and teaches her about various properties of ingredients, and she takes in his tips attentively.
As they leave, Bong-sun stumbles and he tells her to build up her endurance, chiding her for shrinking back and giving off the impression that she’s weak. It’s why the other cooks call her “Bong,” which is on one hand a simple shortening of her name, but on the other hand another word for a pushover. He tells her to speak up more and not let them get away with that… and then tosses out, “Let’s go, Bong.” She double-takes, and he quips, “It’s okay for me. Only me.”
Bong-sun pauses to watch a street musician singing and playing guitar, enjoying the song. Sun-woo grumps that it’s no big deal and calls her away, though she’s loath to leave, lingering to hear more.
The medium unni takes Soon-ae back home, binding her with some kind of spiritual rope, ignoring Soon-ae’s whining for freedom. Soon-ae insists she’s on the verge of resolving her lingering grudge, so all unni has to do is let her do the last step. Unni perks up to hear that Soon-ae has found a man whose yang energy can withstand her yin, but when she hears who it is, she puts her foot down. No way, no how.
Her argument is that Sun-woo’s mother is her client and friend, but Soon-ae guesses it’s more that she’s taken lots of Mom’s money. She’s not moved by that argument, but Unni grows serious and offers to send Soon-ae onward with a spiritual rite that will move her forward to her heavenly afterlife.
But Soon-ae tenses up in fear at the mention of those rites, having heard how painful they are—they supposedly cause pain that feels like your skin is being ripped apart. Unni says it’s only for a moment, but Soon-ae refuses.
Sun-woo and Bong-sun arrive back at the restaurant, and she bids him a good night. He says he’s not sure if that’s possible since she might switch to her manic side and pounce on him, though really, at this point I think he’d be disappointed if she didn’t.
The screen splits as they head into their respective rooms, and the first thing Sun-woo does is reach for his guitar. Ha! I knew we couldn’t have a Jo Jung-seok drama without a serenade of some sort. He starts playing, acting like it’s not a big deal while totally showing off for his audience on the other side of the wall, and starts to sing. (The song is titled “Sweet Chocolate,” and was written by Jo Jung-seok himself.)
Bong-sun perks up to hear him, moving close to the wall to listen better, totally impressed.
In the morning, Sun-woo wakes her up early insisting on starting an exercise regimen. You know, for her health and cooking endurance, like a good teacher would do. Suuure.
But he’s agog to hear that she never learned how to ride a bicycle, and it’s hilarious how he finds every opportunity to show off, literally riding his bike in circles in front of her. Doubly hilarious is how his bragging would impress nobody else, but lucky for him that it works on her.
Sun-woo proceeds to teach her how to ride, though not successfully, and ends up with a sore arm when she starts to fall and he leaps forward to break her impact.
Stopping at the vending machines for a drink, Sun-woo’s just a bit short to buy two cans. He feels under the machine and comes up with one coin, but they’re still short, and as he’s suggesting they split one can, Bong-sun fiddles with the coin return knob and finds what they need. And of course, Sun-woo finds a way to make this his doing: “Well, when the teacher is quick, so is the student.”
They return to their parked bikes just in time to see a thief making off with one of the seats, and Sun-woo runs after him, chasing him through the neighborhood. Bong-sun runs too but fades quicker, and goes in the other direction to intercept the thief from the other side. She clings madly to the thief’s leg, wailing, “I’m sorry! I’m really sorry!” He yelps, “If you’re sorry, let go!”
But instead, Bong-sun chomps down on his calf, just long enough for Sun-woo to catch up.
They hand over the culprit to the police, who have been after him for a while for a number of neighborhood thefts. I love how proud Sun-woo is of Bong-sun as he explains to Officer Sung-jae how she caught the guy, while she protests modestly that she only bit him a little.
As Sun-woo and Bong-sun head off together, Sung-jae and his partner wonder at how surprisingly friendly the fussy chef is with his employee—it’s certainly new behavior for Sun-woo.
Sun-woo invites Bong-sun to eat some of his favorite cake with him, and she shyly accepts. He looks down at her fondly and notes that she’s smiling a lot today and how much better that is than constantly shrinking back. “I really like today’s Na Bong-sun,” he declares, making her feel even giddier as he ruffles her hair affectionately.
That’s when So-hyung arrives, awkwardly noticing that he’s eating the same cake she brought for him. Sun-woo explains about Bong-sun’s living situation, and explains so thoroughly that she says it sounds like he’s making excuses. She teases that he’s usually not like this.
Still, to others it looks like Sun-woo and So-hyung are the two flirting with romance, and when his assistants arrive for work, they immediately make excuses to leave them to some privacy, not really buying the couple’s protests that they’re not together.
Medium Unni insists on performing that rite to send Soon-ae on to the next realm, grimly dragging her along while Soon-ae begs to be allowed to do things her way. She’s legitimately terrified and on the verge of tears, but Unni reminds her of the consequences of failing to resolve her grudge—she only has a few months left before she hits the third year anniversary of her death, and becomes a malevolent ghost.
Unni begins the ceremony, chanting in front of an altar where Soon-ae sits, bound by ropes, wailing that she doesn’t want to go this way. She gets so worked up that for a brief flash, black wisps start to emanate from her body, and that pent-up force sends parts of the altar flying. Then the black cloud dissipates and Soon-ae returns to normal.
Seeing Sun-woo so cozy with his assistant weighs on So-hyung’s mind, so when her flirty married sunbae suggests setting her up on a date, she considers it. She’s not inclined to go but isn’t very convincing when she says it’s not because of Sun-woo, who’s just a friend.
At the restaurant, sous chef Min-soo is being his usual pushy self with the other assistants, pressuring them to go drinking after work, and accidentally nicks his knife. Worse yet, he hadn’t realized he’d been using Sun-woo’s knife, and they all know how much he hates that.
So Min-soo madly sharpens the blade before Sun-woo gets there, preferring to be on the hook for that minor offense rather than the bigger one of damaging it.
So-hyung calls Sun-woo under the pretense of talking about the cooking show, then brings up the potential blind date, asking if she should agree or not. Sun-woo hesitates before saying she should do it, and she’s disappointed with his answer.
Soon-ae’s outburst during the rites caused something to scratch Unni’s face, and she apologizes contritely for getting too worked up. But Unni has bigger concerns, having identified that black smoke as Soon-ae’s malevolent energy. It’s starting to grow within her as her deadline approaches, and when she got upset it flared out of control.
That night, Sun-woo gives Bong-sun another cooking lesson, this time with salts and seasonings. When he pats her head, Bong-sun smiles to herself, while Sun-woo smiles to himself as he watches her working her way through the tastings. They are freaking adorable, in the way it makes them so obviously happy to be in each other’s presence. Then he caps off the lesson with a cup of tea to soothe her taste buds, and the thoughtfulness gives her another thrill of pleasure.
As she leaves the restaurant, Officer Sung-jae comes by and offers to buy a late snack. She starts to decline politely, but he overrides her with friendly insistence, telling her where to meet him.
With Bong-sun back in her body, Soon-ae’s family wonders why they haven’t seen her around lately. It’s mostly little bro Kyung-mo who’s cranky at her lack of response to his calls and texts, which Dad laughs about since it’s obvious Kyung-mo wants to see her. But they’re both bewildered when Bong-sun walks right by them without noticing, and when Kyung-mo stops her, she just says, “I think you have the wrong person.”
Kyung-mo finds her behavior insulting, sure that she’s acting. Even Dad is confused, wondering at the drastic change.
Bong-sun and Sung-jae sit down at a pojangmacha, and he notes that she seems different every time he sees her. She gives a vague explanation about being moody, and he prods a little before backing off and saying that he’s just worried about her, because there was something in her vibe that one dawn when he’d run into her—she seemed on the verge.
“I’ve experienced that moment in my life a few times too,” he explains. Something in his manner gets Bong-sun to start confiding, but she cuts herself off.
At home, Sun-woo listens for sounds of Bong-sun through their shared wall, wondering why it’s so quiet. Then Mom calls saying that she’s sick, so the next morning Sun-woo drops by her house… where he finds her hearty and hale, of course, since she just lied to get him to come over for family time.
Sun-woo practically rolls his eyes when Mom starts in on all the spiritual warnings again, telling him to beware of water this year. She wonders if he’s wearing the talisman underwear she bought him (LOL), and starts fishing around his waistband to check for herself. Sun-woo fends her off, and she exclaims, “If that’s so unfair, you can see mine too.” Sun-woo: “NO!” And then Mom literally chases him around the living room and over couches.
Soon-ae is understandably dismayed at the signs of her impending future as a malevolent ghost, and tells Unni that she’s scared. While Unni rummages around her kitchen, Soon-ae glances at the door, seeing her opening to escape. But this time, Unni doesn’t go after her, feeling overcome with pity for Soon-ae’s fate and wishing for her to solve her grudge soon.
Dinner service at the restaurant is a muted affair, with Sun-woo in a withdrawn mood. When the camera pulls out, we understand why: So-hyung is here with her blind date. The staff wonders at it, having been convinced she was in some kind of relationship with Sun-woo.
So-hyung finds Sun-woo to ask what he thinks of her date, hoping for some kind of reaction. Bong-sun hangs back, overhearing as Sun-woo finds positive things to say about the guy and suggests that she keep dating him if she likes him.
But So-hyung’s disappointed at the reply, asking if he really feels nothing to see her on the date. She even admits that it upsets her—because it means she’s alone in being bothered by it. Okay, finally a straight word out of one of them, even if Sun-woo doesn’t do anything with it. But So-hyung does cut her date short, knowing she’s not interested in pursuing something.
After slipping away from Unni, Soon-ae heads back to the restaurant, telling herself she can solve her problem her own way. She bounds up to Bong-sun, who yelps in alarm and tries to avoid her, to no avail—Soon-ae keeps hounding her, sorta asking for permission to possess her and sorta diving for the body anyway.
She tells Bong-sun how important this is and how she has very little time and needs to avoid turning into a bad ghost, but every time she lurches for the body, Bong-sun skitters away.
In her hurry to evade the ghost, Bong-sun knocks into her desk and causes a notebook to fall, and Soon-ae sees the clippings that fall out—they’re all about Sun-woo. The ensuing exchange is hilarious, as Bong-sun clocks Soon-ae’s interest:
Bong-sun: “It’s not!”
Soon-ae: “What’s not?”
Bong-sun “…everything! It’s just not.”
Soon-ae: “It is? REALLY?”
But it makes sense for Soon-ae, who now appeals to Bong-sun to make a deal. Bong-sun listens warily as Soon-ae argues a pretty decent case for possessing her body: She’ll make the chef Bong-sun’s man, and seduce him for her. Bong-sun isn’t going to be able to make progress on her own, but Soon-ae is totally fine being pushy and making all the advances. In the end, Bong-sun will win Sun-woo over, and Soon-ae will get to resolve her grudge. She adds that Bong-sun could lose the chef to So-hyung if she doesn’t do anything.
Bong-sun seems to find this tempting, but she shakes it aside firmly, saying she doesn’t want Sun-woo that way. Soon-ae complains that she’s way too conservative, but doesn’t keep chasing her.
Instead, she finds her father out for a walk and accompanies him up the hill, though of course he can’t see her, or hear her wondering about her fate.
The cooking lesson tonight involves knife skills, and Sun-woo corrects Bong-sun’s grip and shows her how to trim tomatoes properly. He has her hold his hand as he goes through the motion, and she thrills at the touch, holding her hand close afterward.
Sun-woo finds So-hyung outside the restaurant, swaying drunkenly. She admits she drank alone because she was feeling peeved, and asks again if he truly feels nothing to see her with another man. She even admits, “Watching you with your nobody assistant makes me jealous.”
They don’t see that the front door opens, and Bong-sun overhears as So-hyung wonders why she’s feeling this way all of a sudden, and asks Sun-woo if she was really only a friend to him. Then she kisses him impulsively, though she’s immediately mortified. Sun-woo’s stunned, and Bong-sun whirls back inside in shock.
Meanwhile, Soon-ae drinks funeral liquor with her ghost friend, sighing over her predicament. The friend urges her to just go for it and seduce Sun-woo, but Soon-ae doesn’t see a way to do it when she can’t possess the woman he likes, and the woman she can possess won’t allow her.
Soon-ae wonders if she may have to give up, sighing that she really did want to try “it” once: “The thing that’s so easy for others, why is it so hard for me?” Her friend suggests that she go through with that passing rite, which is better than turning into a bad ghost, although they both wince to think of the excruciating pain involved.
Reeling from the kiss she witnessed, Bong-sun thinks back to all her encounters with him, like his lessons in cooking and his serenade. Finally it prompts a decision, and she gets up with determination, looking for Soon-ae.
She can’t find her in the restaurant, so she heads out into the neighborhood (cutely yelling, “Hey, Ghost!”) until she comes across her in the street. Soon-ae makes a few digs at Bong-sun for being a conservative stick-in-the-mud, but Bong-sun looks her in the eye and says decisively, “I’ll allow it. I’ll let you come into my body.”
Soon-ae’s eyes widen, and Bong-sun asks, “Make Chef-nim mine.”
Yesss, they make a deal! It’s what I wanted from the outset, though it makes sense that Bong-sun needed time (and the proper impetus) to make her amenable to the idea. We needed to advance the developments between her and Sun-woo enough, so that she feels a relationship may be within her reach after all. By now she’s had enough encouragement from him that rather than shrinking back and keeping all the feelings bottled inside in silence, as was her wont, she’s willing to go for it.
The irony, of course, is that Sun-woo’s already halfway in love with her and Bong-sun doesn’t expressly need Soon-ae’s help—their rapport in today’s episode felt so sweet and natural that one could imagine life taking its course and leading them together eventually. It might take longer that way, but I could certainly believe they’re well on their way.
But that’s the kind of dramatic irony that enhances this situation for us, since we know things they don’t know about themselves and have to just sit back and watch them take the long way around. Sometimes being the omniscient viewer is just frustrating, but sometimes that frustration is part of the eventual payoff. I much prefer when it’s the latter, and I’m glad that Oh My Ghostess lets me enjoy the tease.
I’m relieved that we’re starting to see more of Bong-sun’s true personality peeking out, the one that was buried under layers of stress and fear. It’s a little like she was living in a permanent state of PTSD that kept her personality stuck behind a wall of defense, and now the fear has been relaxed and she’s emerging from her bunker. It feels like watching someone wake from a stupor, proving that there’s more to her than everyone could see before. It’s gratifying to see her enjoying herself, even showing flashes of sass. How much did I die laughing when she kept apologizing while she was chasing the thief, and then bit his leg? And Sun-woo’s proud reaction to her gumption was just the cherry on top.
Soon-ae does have a point in that she’s the impetus behind all this recent progress, because while she didn’t create Bong-sun’s and Sun-woo’s interest in each other out of thin air, it’s probable they wouldn’t have sparked without her actions. I’m still not sure how you’d parse Sun-woo’s interest in Bong-sun—exactly what percentage is Bong-sun, and how much is Soon-ae?—but the beauty of today’s episode is that it’s no longer a pivotal question. At least for me, because seeing Bong-sun for herself only feeds his interest. I loved his line about how he really likes her today, because she needs to know (okay, I need to know) that his affection isn’t based entirely on false assumptions.
One crucial point about this deal between ghost and host is that Soon-ae’s showing greater respect for the body, and I really love that. I didn’t mind that she hijacked bodies before, because I had faith that she’d grow and become more aware and respectful of the host, and she didn’t fail us. Even while she was chasing Bong-sun around half-asking, half-demanding her body, she backed off when Bong-sun gave her a final decision. She was even ready to give up her whole mission because she accepted Bong-sun’s answer, and wasn’t going to override it anyway.
Because the show put the decision to be possessed into Bong-sun’s hands, now I can face the rest of the show without qualms, without feeling uneasy about the drama steamrollering right over the issue of a person’s agency. The best ghost-possession dramas make it a point to address that issue, and to allow agency for all souls involved, which is really the most (only?) satisfactory way to go. (See also: Who Are You, the Yoon Kye-sang version.)
And to balance out all that sweetness and humor (Mom chasing Sun-woo around yelling about underwear was a particular highlight), we also got a bit more serious with Soon-ae’s ticking clock growing louder and more ominous. I suppose you could dismiss her dilemma since a simple ceremony is apparently enough to end her wandering ghost days—why all the fuss when there’s an answer? But I see it as akin to facing an execution, even though we’re told that she’d be moving on to a better place. Just because we may believe in a heaven after earth doesn’t mean we could face an excruciating death without second thoughts, right? Not when you hear that having sex would accomplish the same goal, certainly. Is that even much of a choice? SEX, PLZ.
So Soon-ae’s insistence on moving on the painless way is, at the very least, understandable and sympathetic. The problem is, in going after the easiest solution, she might fail and have to face the worst possible fate, and then it’ll be too late to take Painful Door No. 2 as an alternate exit route. Kim Seul-gi played Soon-ae’s fear particularly well—it’s enough to give you goosebumps—and there’s nothing like hearing that you’re slowly turning evil to kick the desperation into high gear.
Lucky for us, desperation comes hand-in-hand with identity confusion, romantic hijinks, and tons of hilarity. I’ve got my laughs ready to go.