Nearly every relationship in our story is marked by a shift, to wildly differing results. Luckily all four of our main players are ready to be honest and discuss their issues, which helps, though the honesty can be sometimes painful. But better a painful truth than false hope — and sometimes watching the person you love be happy, even with someone else, can be fulfilling in its own right.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Hye-jin runs through the airport looking for Ha-ri, collapsing in tears when her best friend is nowhere to be found. She collects herself and sits staring at Ha-ri’s to-do list, not even registering when Ha-ri just casually walks past her.
Hye-jin is thrilled, but Ha-ri seems oddly mystified by her friend finding her here. Hye-jin yell-sobs at her for leaving her without saying goodbye, but Ha-ri is all, Where am I going? She just came to see her mother off to Japan — she’s not going anywhere. Why would she leave after doing something so awful to Hye-jin? She has to stay and make up for her behavior.
Back at home Ha-ri tells Hye-jin that after talking to her mom, she now understands why she left her. All of her things are gone because she decided after what she did with Sung-joon that she’s immature. So she cut up her credit card, got rid of all the things her father handed to her, and deleted all the random men from her phone. She even quit her job, which her father got for her.
She admits that, because she always had things given to her without effort, she got greedy about something that didn’t belong to her. She apologizes sincerely to Hye-jin, who easily accepts her apology.
Sung-joon wakes in the office with a start, working late after having spoken to his US contact, who isn’t happy that the magazine only came up to second place. Nothing less than first place will do, and they have one more chance or Most Korea is done for. They’re really putting the pressure on him to make it happen.
Ha-ri tells Hye-jin that she plans to take some time off, even though the hotel seems to want her back. Hye-jin gets a text that Sung-joon is nearby, asking her to come out, but for some reason she tells Ha-ri that she’s running to the store. Aww, and you guys were doing so well with the honesty.
She meets Sung-joon in the park, who tells her to wait ten seconds, then just stares at her. He’s ready to go after that, saying that he only wanted to see her and get energized. Hye-jin senses something is off, asking if it’s worth it to wear himself out to make Most first. But Sung-joon says with a brave smile that it’s not just about him, admitting that he feels responsible for the Most team members, too.
Hye-jin complains that it’s too hard to do by himself, so Sung-joon asks for a hug. He immediately chastises himself for pressuring her when he said he wouldn’t, and leaves with a smile — though Hye-jin looks unsettled.
When Sung-joon gets home, it’s a minute before he notices a smiling and mostly-naked Shin-hyuk is already there, having used his shower. He hilariously falls right off the couch when he finds himself face-to-abs with Shin-hyuk, and he’s so startled he can’t even form a complete sentence. Rewind, replay!
Shin-hyuk even ordered delivery, but when he turns to answer the door his towel falls off, giving Sung-joon an unwanted eyeful. Shin-hyuk apologizes for shocking him so badly, then giggles to himself. This is the best thing ever.
Later when everyone is dressed again, Shin-hyuk brings up his real reason for being here — his two days off have given him some great ideas for the magazine. Sung-joon asks if this means he’s coming back, and Shin-hyuk confirms it. Hooray!
But when Sung-joon looks through Shin-hyuk’s ideas, he has a reason to nix or alter every one. Shin-hyuk marvels at his vast knowledge, but Sung-joon only asks why he’s changed his mind about leaving. Shin-hyuk says he got motivated when he heard the magazine might be shut down, which makes it seem fun, like a game. He has no intention of quitting without even trying.
On his way out, Shin-hyuk catches sight of Sung-joon’s Onion Head, cocks an eyebrow and gives it an encouraging smile, then goes. Cute. On his way home he calls whoever-it-is that he speaks to in English and says that he can’t make it this time, that something’s come up. Whoever it is, he seems to feel warmly towards them, telling them he misses them.
Ha-ri fusses over Hye-jin on her way to work in the morning, making sure she looks nice. Shin-hyuk pulls up next to Hye-jin’s bus on his motorcycle and smiles at her, and meets her at the crosswalk. He smiles at her sweetly while she bops to music on her MP3 player, then knocks her knee out from under her. Back to his old self, I see.
She squeals to hear that he’s back, and he does a little happy dance for her — but he’s sobered to think that she doesn’t know the real reason he left. Hye-jin flounders, and he can’t resist laughing at her discomfort… then admits it’s true that he left because he was rejected. But he yells that it’s fun again, and heads into the building.
Hye-jin asks why it’s fun again, but he just answers that it ain’t over ’til it’s over. The entire Most team greet him with excitement and hugs, then they all smack him for leaving in the first place. Even Sung-joon, watching from his office, smiles as he gripes that it will be getting noisy again.
They get right back to work, discussing a fashionista named Leonard Kim that they’re trying to land for a featured interview. Unfortunately, he never gives interviews so they want to go with their second choice — but Shin-hyuk says they should go for it and take the risk. Sung-joon also thinks they should keep trying, and he and Shin-hyuk are suddenly in complete sync as they give a tandem pep talk.
Sung-joon startles everyone with a sudden nosebleed, and Shin-hyuk hilariously screams like a little girl and runs for cover. Sung-joon waves off everyone’s concern, but Hye-jin can’t stop herself from shooting him glares through his office window. She knows he’s overtired, and he looks pale.
She hovers when she brings him the meeting notes, worried about him, but he swears he’s okay. He even teases her by pretending to pick up his desk to prove it, hee. He says softly that it’s nice that she worries about him, which makes her go all formal on him. Poor guy, happens every time. He’s disappointed, but awww, she left a note on his tea that it’s good for nosebleeds.
Joon-woo texts Seul to invite her to their spicy noodle place for dinner, but she turns him down claiming not to feel well. He immediately runs to her in person, worried that she’s ill, and she has to internally steel herself not to flutter at his attention. Give up girl, he’s adorable and you’re sunk.
When Reporter Cha has to postpone her meeting with Hye-jin regarding her fairy tale article, Shin-hyuk is quick on the draw to volunteer to read it for her. Hye-jin is nervous around him so he flips a coin to decide, but this time when he wins with heads, she screams that he swore that was tails last time. But he’s serious as he gives her some tips on writing, and she soaks it all in like a sponge.
He basks in her admiration, musing that she must find his knowledge and professionalism very sexy, making her nervous again. But he says he hasn’t shown her what kind of man he is yet, repeating that it ain’t over ’til it’s over. She tries to let him down easy but unfortunately, he deliberately misinterprets her words as saying that she likes him.
Okay, Joon-woo is the cutest thing ever — he ran to the store to buy a thermometer and just about every kind of medicine for whatever might be ailing Seul. He leaves for a meeting and she wails at how nice and lovable he is.
Later that day, Hye-jin notices Sung-joon in his office with the lights off and his head down, cringing every time the staff holler at a game they’re playing. She gives them her credit card and bustles them off to eat, her treat, and relaxes when Sung-joon settles down to sleep.
She nearly attacks Chief Editor Kim when she wanders in singing opera, but it works and Sung-joon doesn’t wake. She sneaks into his office to cover him with a blanket, which Shin-hyuk witnesses, and droops. When she comes out, he grabs her to do something fun, and takes her for coffee.
The barista calls Hye-jin Shin-hyuk’s girlfriend, but he tells her, “She’s not my girlfriend… yet.” Hye-jin determines to be honest and tells him she doesn’t like him that way, but Shin-hyuk is pretty stubborn and insists on misunderstanding her. He makes her laugh with stupid faces, as though delaying the inevitable will make it not true.
Hye-jin gets home that night to find Ha-ri having pizza with Hye-rin, and she overhears Hye-rin tell Ha-ri that there’s a man chasing her sister. She’s horrified when Hye-rin laughs at her playing hard to get, and says that that oppa must have bad eyes. She tries to get Hye-rin to stop talking about Sung-joon by shoving food in her mouth, but of course that doesn’t work.
Later Ha-ri surprises Hye-jin with the new shoes she promised, a gorgeous pair of silver heels. Hye-jin turns them down, saying they’re too pretty and more Ha-ri’s style, but Ha-ri reminds her of a saying — good shoes will take you good places. She entreats her to take the shoes, and go where she wants to go.
Ha-ri warns Hye-jin to be careful at first, because it will feel uncomfortable, though soon they’ll be so comfortable she won’t even notice them. But she’s not talking about shoes anymore, though Hye-jin is so dense she has to spell it out: “Go to Sung-joon!”
Hye-jin insists she’s fine being just friends with him, but Ha-ri knows that he’s the kind of person whose heart went to Hye-jin even when Ha-ri tried to hold him. Waiting for her will be hard for him. Ha-ri says she’s not lying about being okay anymore, that she really is okay, so Hye-jin can go be with him.
Sung-joon works late into the night, then wanders past Hye-jin’s place again. He starts to call her but her lights are out, so he contents himself with just looking. Meanwhile she’s contemplating the shoes, and remembering his promise not to push her as long as she doesn’t run away. Sung-joon spends a long time hanging around outside, staring at her window and coughing loudly, just in case. Just when he gives up, Hye-jin turns her light on and opens the window, but they miss each other.
Sung-joon walks past a small store where he once watched Hye-jin talking to the resident dog, Princess, and stops for a little canine conversation. He tells Princess that waiting is harder than he thought. He goes home to mope at Onion Head, looking deeply lonely and tired.
In the morning, Hye-jin puts on her new shoes and steels herself for her day. She says hello to Princess and notices she’s wearing a jaunty new scarf… and realizes that Sung-joon was here recently. She tells Princess that she’s not going to run away anymore, and heads to work.
Ha-ri finds her at the bus stop and offers her once last ride — she’s selling the car. She sends Hye-jin to work with a double thumbs-up and yells that the shoes look great on her.
Sung-joon isn’t at work, having come in for an early meeting then left again, saying he had another meeting to go to. Hye-jin snatches up his scarf and runs out, but he gets in the elevator before she catches up.
Jon-woo brings everyone coffee and mentions seeing the photographer that Sung-joon’s meeting at the coffee shop, so Hye-jin runs out again. But she’s just missed Sung-joon again, so she zooms back outside — just as Sung-joon leaves in his car. ARGH. Back in the office Hye-jin hears Reporter Cha talking to Sung-joon on the phone, reminded that he’s going to Jeju Island and that he’ll be back tonight after six.
Later, Shin-hyuk finds Hye-jin asleep in the meeting room, and sits to watch her. He softly whispers, “Jackson. Look at me, too.”
Poong-ho asks Hye-jin to get something from Sung-joon’s office, and in the pile of folders on his desk, she finds a sketchbook with a picture he’s drawn. It’s of her, tasting the seaweed on the beach from their business trip. And another, with the bandaid stuck to her lips when he had to help her with her injured finger. The entire sketchbook is filled with drawings of her cute and embarrassing moments, and Hye-jin tears up looking at them. It’s telling, that she looks absolutely gorgeous in every sketch.
She’s too distracted to work and can only stare at his scarf and pine, but she finally comes to a decision and jumps up. She grabs the sketchbook and runs out, full of anticipation. She waits at the airport for Sung-joon to come back, and holds up the sketchbook where she’s written, “Welcome Ji Sung-joon.” But she was so busy writing the message, she didn’t see that he’s already gone.
On his way out of the airport, Sung-joon nearly collapses, barely catching himself on the door. He’s dizzy and exhausted and it finally catches up to him — he passes out, while Hye-jin waits inside.
When he doesn’t show, Hye-jin grows worried and heads back to the Most office, where she finds out from Reporter Cha about Sung-joon’s collapse. She runs right past Shin-hyuk, who follows her out and offers her a ride, even when she says she’s going to Sung-joon.
He takes her to the hospital and sends her in, telling her it’s okay when she tries to apologize. She feels bad for doing this to him, saying that he’s a good person and kind, and that being with him is fun. He stops her, calling her “my kind-hearted Jackson,” and offers to flip one last coin — heads and he walks away, tails and he holds onto her so she can’t leave.
He flips the coin and catches it, but stops to look at Hye-jin, standing with tears in her eyes. He puts the coin away and tells her to go. He thanks her for hesitating, as his eyes go red and he looks like he’s fighting tears. After Hye-jin runs in, he pulls out the coin, and his face finally crumples as he sees that it would have been heads after all.
Hye-jin finds Sung-joon in his room, asleep and pale. She reaches out to touch his hair, which rouses him just enough to pull her down and onto the bed with him. He opens his eyes and asks weakly if she was worried, but she says no… she came to give him that hug.
Hye-jin hugs him for a long time, her tears falling and trailing down his face, then she pulls back and they lay there, staring into each other’s eyes. And then Sung-joon can’t wait anymore, and he kisses her.
Well, it’s about time! And what a sweet moment for both of them, with Hye-jin coming to support Sung-joon just when he needs her the most. She’s always watched over him and taken care of him from the background, even before he knew who she was, and this is just an extension of that. The one thing he’s needed from her, for some time now, was just a simple hug — but it meant so much more to both of them than just a hug. It would mean that she was accepting him and his feelings, and admitting that she returns them, and that’s a big step for Hye-jin. She’s never doubted that she cares for him, but making it official has been frightening for her on several levels.
So it’s wonderful that Hye-jin came to Sung-joon all on her own, without pressure or manhandling from him, as so many drama heroes are wont to do. He’d promised to wait for her, even though the poor man has been waiting most of his life, and he actually followed through and let her come on her own time. I love that about Sung-joon — yeah, he can get ugly in the face of professional pressure, but once he makes a promise, he keeps it. From the moment he started feeling something for Hye-jin, he’s never been anything but kind and gentle with her, and even more so now that he knows she’s his Hye-jin. I’m willing to forgive his early slip-ups considering the pridigious pressure he’s under from his mysterious American employer, and the fact that Hye-jin was pretty useless when he first met her. But they’ve both changed, and it’s obvious how precious he considers her, so I’m considering that water under the bridge.
In the other direction, Ha-ri’s revelation and attempts to change her life are really impressive. It takes a lot to give up an easy life and start fresh, but she did it without heistation. It shows that she was more horrified by her behavior in pretending to be Hye-jin than anyone else, and I respect that she had a serious talk with herself and decided to do something about it. And the thing is, Ha-ri laready has everything she needs to be successful in her own right. She’s smart, capable, and clearly a hard worker as evidenced by the accolades she was given at the hotel. Even without her beauty on top of everything else, she’s completely equipped to take care of herself, and do it well. She doesn’t need Daddy’s money or connections, and it’s good to see her realize that and strike out on her own. Not to mention, how happy-making it is to see her truly and sincerely cheer on Hye-jin with Sung-joon… and now that she’s getting her life in order, her own love story will come soon enough.
Shin-hyuk, on the other hand, became really frustrating this episode. I get that he’s a free spirit and kids around a lot, but using that to keep Hye-jin off-balance and confused isn’t cool. She was trying so hard to finally be honest with him and he wouldn’t let her, which came off not so cute anymore, and bordering on disrespectful. Making a girl laugh with dumb walrus impressions isn’t how you get her to like you… not past middle school, anyway. And he knows about Hye-jin and Sung-joon’s past together, and about how they feel now, so to see him continue to try to get in the middle of that is maddening. He needs to take a note from Ha-ri’s page and do a little growing up before he’s ready to date anyone. At least he let her go with grace when it mattered, and he saw with his own eyes how much she cares for Sung-joon.
But I’m happy to finally see Hye-jin getting her confidence back and believing that she’s worthy of love. I think her (perceived) looks held her back because of the judgment she received from society, but all she ever needed, more than a makeover, was confidence. Sung-joon certainly didn’t care how she looked, and all she really needed was just to look a bit more professional at work. Now that she has, and shown that she’s a valuable and valued worker, it’s good to see the confidence coming along with it. With that confidence she can finally be with the man she loves, and move forward with her life.