She Was Pretty: Episode 3
Our heroine dives into her new job with commitment, determined to make it work, while her best friend gets caught in a tricky lie. Nothing goes quite as planned for either friend, but all is not lost — Hye-jin could find herself making new friends at the office, whether she likes it or not.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
Sung-joon sees Ha-ri at her hotel and follows her in, calling her Hye-jin and looking hurt that she lied about leaving the country. Thinking fast, Ha-ri pulls Sung-joon into a hug before he can see her name tag — she tosses it over her shoulder, hitting a coworker in the head with it.
When the coworker tries to return it, Ha-ri yanks a confused Sung-joon outside, and they go to a cafe to talk. Ha-ri’s aegyo is useless in the face of Sung-joon’s upset, so she tells him that she did go to London but was called back for the hotel job. She’s super-twitchy, and Sung-joon doesn’t look like he’s buying any of this.
He finally decides to believe her and relaxes, and tells her that she should have called him when she came back. Ha-ri claims she was going to call him later today, which mollifies Sung-joon for now.
Ha-ri slips up and mentions his job, which he never told her about. She has the worst poker face ever, so it’s lucky for her that he’s just so glad to see her that he seems to be choosing not to look too closely into her behavior. He says they can see each other often now, since their workplaces are close, and Ha-ri looks like she wants to crawl under the table.
When she gets free Ha-ri calls Hye-jin, who’s away from her desk, so Shin-hyuk answers. He blandly offers to give Hye-jin a message as long as it’s an interesting story, hee, but Ha-ri just hangs up, confused even more because she thought Hye-jin was tendering her resignation.
Between Ha-ri’s freakout over seeing Sung-joon again, and Hye-jin’s freakout over his treatment of her at work, Sung-joon has worked both roommates into a tizzy today. Hye-jin comes home hollering that he’ll never make her quit her job, but Ha-ri is confused at Hye-jin’s anger since she claims she and Sung-joon had such a special relationship.
Hye-jin tells Ha-ri what he said about not deserving the name Kim Hye-jin, but Ha-ri can’t believe that the sweet gentle man she met would say such a thing. Hye-jin says it’s a good thing they told him she was moving away, so he shouldn’t ever find out that she’s his Hye-jin, and she plans to just work hard and ignore him.
She forbids Ha-ri to ever speak of him again, so Ha-ri pretends she can’t remember what she was going to say. She decides that telling her friend about running into Sung-joon again would only upset her, vowing to handle it herself.
I wish I knew what was on Sung-joon’s tablet, because he’s so focused on it the next morning that he accidentally drinks the water in his table’s centerpiece. He smacks into another glass door on his way out, still reading, and heads to the street corner.
When the signal changes and everyone starts to walk, a woman’s voice rings out, “It’s a go!” Something about it snaps Sung-joon out of his absorption in whatever he’s reading, and he’s reminded of himself as a child, walking down a street with young Hye-jin. She’d also called out, “It’s a go!” when their light turned green.
It was Hye-jin at that light, walking ahead of him to their building, and Sung-joon doesn’t see her. But it’s Shin-hyuk who wishes her good morning and offers her a bite of his triangle kimbap, which, ew.
Still standing at the light, Sung-joon calls Ha-ri who’s still home getting ready for work. He starts to ask if she remembers their long-ago conversation at the crosswalk, but he stops himself and says he’ll call her later. Ha-ri asks him to set aside some time later to talk.
So-ri begins her campaign to identify and snag the secret office chaebol by making all three potential candidates coffee and giving them her best aegyo, to their universal confusion. Of course, when one of the other female employees says she’d like coffee too, So-ri tells her to go get some fresh air to wake up. Way to be subtle, So-ri.
The office instant message system blows up once Sung-joon arrives at work, and he immediately calls a meeting. Hye-jin bolsters her spirits by reminding herself that three months isn’t so long, but she crumples in fear once the meeting starts. It doesn’t help that she’s not up on magazine lingo and really has no clue what anyone is talking about.
She’s so worried that she’ll make a mistake that she grabs the wrong remote control when asked to turn on a video, instead shining a laser pointer right in Sung-joon’s face. He holds his temper today, only reminding her that he hates wasting time.
Hye-jin is a bundle of nerves by the time the meeting is over, and Shin-hyuk hangs back to tease her about how jumpy she is around Sung-joon, when she’s pretty competent otherwise. He says she acts like someone afraid of getting caught, which is way too close for comfort, and Hye-jin’s over-the-top reaction only increases his suspicion.
Sung-joon is expecting the meeting notes from Hye-jin, but she still has no idea what much of the discussion was about. Nobody has time to explain things to her, so when she takes the notes to Sung-joon he’s frustrated at her again. She tells him that she got the job honestly though her abilities, but he wonders why she’s here when she doesn’t even understand basic terminology.
She explains that she was transferred here suddenly and hasn’t had time to learn, and there’s nobody to teach her. Sung-joon says that she can’t wait for someone else and should do it herself. He only works with pros and doesn’t care about her history, and he’s willing to let her go if she can’t keep up. He literally throws the meeting notes back at her and dismisses her.
Hye-jin is sent to help So-ri organize cosmetic products, but she’s unfamiliar with the brands and has difficulty reading the labels. So-ri laughs that she’s never used common cosmetics before, which of course is when Sung-joon walks by and sighs at her uselessness again.
Later Hye-jin is walking past Director Cha and Sung-joon, and she’s put on the spot when Director Cha asks for a particular jacket and she has no idea which one it is. Shin-hyuk catches her banging her head on her desk (and uses the opportunity to slide his bag of dry ramyun under her forehead to break it up, heh) and wonders who is frustrating her so much.
She goes back to the management team office and starts working like she belongs there, and her boss has to physically drag her back to the Most office. He tells her that her three months will be over in a flash, but he sighs that she looks like an animal going to slaughter.
Hye-jin is immediately grabbed and put right back to work, and manages to hold it together for the rest of the day. She’s exhausted and falls asleep on the bus home, but she still gives up her seat for an elderly ajumma who boards the bus.
The jerk who insulted Hye-jin at Ha-ri’s birthday party is waiting on the doorstep when Ha-ri gets home, but there’s no way she’s ever going to forgive him. A young girl sees him calling after Ha-ri and comments that he must have screwed up pretty bad for her sister to be so angry.
She offers to tell the man how to get on Ha-ri’s good side if he’ll treat her to dessert, and luckily Hye-jin arrives home in time to warn the guy that she’s a con artist — she’s actually Hye-jin’s sister, KIM HYE-RIN (played by Jung Da-bin, who also plays young Hye-jin — cute twist). She apparently has a habit of pretending to be Ha-ri’s sister to get stuff from the men Ha-ri dates, ha.
Hye-rin calls Hye-jin ugly and runs off home — these are no loving sisters, as they both seem inclined to scream and argue. Hye-jin goes inside and collapses in the doorway, exhausted from her long work day. She spends the evening complaining about her job and wailing that she didn’t show Sung-joon how awesome she is like she’d vowed to do.
Ha-ri points out that every field of work has terms and phrases that you have to learn, and she doesn’t agree when Hye-jin calls it “showing off.” Of course she would get scolded when she doesn’t even know the basics. She asks if Hye-jin has tried to learn, or if she was too busy thinking of Sung-joon. Touché.
Hye-jin stomps off to bed but she can’t stop thinking of Ha-ri’s words, unable to deny that she had a point. Finally she gets up and finds some old magazines in storage, and a note from Ha-ri stuck between the pages. She wrote that she was right but she doesn’t like to see Hye-jin scolded, and offers to explain anything Hye-jin needs to know. Best. Friend. Ever.
Hye-jin spends all her free time studying old fashion magazines, and Ha-ri teaches her everything she knows about fashion trends and makeup, which mostly seems to consist of learning the English terms for everything. Soon Hye-jin is impressing her coworkers and even Chief Editor Kim with her newly-acquired knowledge.
At the next staff meeting Hye-jin’s fingers fly as she types up the notes, exulting internally that she understands what people are talking about. But she still manages to draw negative attention when she gets so excited that she cries out, “Yee-hee!” Of course Sung-joon snarls at her, but Shin-hyuk thinks it’s hilarious.
Sung-joon can’t find any fault in her notes this time, but still Hye-jin manages to ruin her grand exit by knocking a stack of files off his desk. At least this time he doesn’t yell at her, but she still beats herself up for ruining her own triumphant moment.
Shin-hyuk sidles over to her desk to ask her to take him out for ddukbokki as she promised, but she doesn’t feel like it today. He decides to flip a coin and she wins the toss, but he claims she didn’t and they get in an argument over which side of the coin is heads.
Shin-hyuk goes through this long explanation of why the number side is actually heads, managing to confuse Hye-jin so much that she stops arguing. He tells her they’ll go eat after work, and when he gets back to his desk, he smiles the most adorable smile ever.
Ha-ri spends her day trying to think of what to say to Sung-joon, forgetting that it’s her father’s birthday today. She calls Sung-joon to ask for a two-hour delay to their plans, so he goes back into the office.
Hye-jin is sent to return some books to the office library, and takes some time to look through the shelves. She finds a children’s book from her father’s publishing company and flips through it happily, unaware that Sung-joon is right around the corner. Shin-hyuk calls to ask when they’re going to eat and she runs out after putting the book away.
Sung-joon wanders over and sees the same book, and stops to look through it with the same expression of nostaglia that was just on Hye-jin’s face. Awww.
Ha-ri’s mother starts in on her the moment she walks in the door, but her relationship with her father seems a lot more friendly — she probably avoids home because of Mommy Dearest. Her father takes a call during dinner leaving Ha-ri and her mother alone, and Mom immediately starts harping on Ha-ri again.
Mom knows about the celebration on Ha-ri’s birthday and basically calls her a slut for partying with men. She says she prefers moderate behavior, and Ha-ri shoots back that she should have been moderate with the Botox. Ouch. Mom sighs out that her looks and personality are just like her mother’s, and ooooooh, now the animosity makes sense. This isn’t Mom, this is Stepmom.
That’s a low blow, and Ha-ri says she won’t stand for her mother being spoken of that way. Dad comes back just as Ha-ri raises her voice and he slaps her hard, so hard that even Stepmom is shocked. He demands Ha-ri apologize, so she stammers out the words with a shaking voice, and leaves.
Once outside she calls Hye-jin, but she’s eating with Shin-hyuk and doesn’t answer. Shin-hyuk is eating Hye-jin out of house and home, and she mentions that she only ever sees him eat cheap junk food like this. He claims it’s a bachelor thing, then spills hot soup all down her front. Then he tries to help her wipe off, basically groping her, HA.
Hye-jin is so busy managing Shin-hyuk that she misses Ha-ri’s texts, and Ha-ri ends up drinking alone in a bar, completely forgetting about her plans with Sung-joon. Eventually she remembers and calls him, and he forgets his annoyance when she tells him where she is.
Once Shin-hyuk walks Hye-jin to her bus stop and heads home himself, she finally sees the messages from Ha-ri. She tries to call her back but Ha-ri is sleeping on the bar, so the bartender answers and tells Hye-jin where to find her.
Meanwhile another customer in the bar is sizing up the drunk Ha-ri (cameo by Kim Sung-oh, and OMG that hair), and he wanders over to strike up a conversation. She rolls her eyes at his awful pickup lines and tells him to get lost, having seen his wedding ring.
She stands and tries to leave and the guy grabs her arm, jerking her around, and thankfully Sung-joon arrives to rescue her. Not that she needs it, as she grabs a decorative pineapple and whacks the letch over the head with it, HA.
A few minutes later the jerk is nursing his wounds in the bathroom, and Sung-joon walks in and slaps down his three-minute timer. He calmly tells the man he has three minutes to go apologize to the lady, but of course the guy refuses.
The three office gossips chat about Sung-joon vetoing all of their ideas in the meeting, but one of them says that she thinks he will approve some of their ideas. She notices something during the meeting – something about his forearms. When he decides on something, he rolls up his sleeves.
In the bar bathroom, the jerk’s time is running out, and Sung-joon starts to roll up his sleeves. A few minutes later he goes out to check on Ha-ri, who’s managed to skin up her hand badly wielding her pineapple bludgeon. Sung-joon starts to lead her out, and neither of them see Hye-jin as she arrives looking for her friend.
HAHA, she gasps when she sees the jerk sporting a bloodied nose and a woeful expression, but Ha-ri is nowhere to be seen. The bartender tells Hye-jin that Ha-ri was picked up by a man, but Ha-ri dates a lot so Hye-jin has no way of knowing which man it could be.
Sung-joon takes Ha-ri to the doctor and sees her sign in with her real name without thinking. He offers to fill out the forms for her and the nurse points out a wound on his face, which Ha-ri hadn’t noticed.
Ha-ri’s hand is bandaged up and they leave, and she asks why he’s not asking her about missing dinner or why she was drinking alone. Sung-joon says he could tell something bad happened and he didn’t want to bring it up, and takes her for some hot comforting soup.
As they eat, Sung-joon brings up his weight as a kid, and Ha-ri forgets herself for a moment and insults him by saying he was really fat. He lets it slide and says that his mother fed him this soup all the time and he hated it, but since she passed away he’s been trying to find a place whose soup tastes like his mother’s. Awwww.
He stops himself and says that he sure is talking a lot about himself lately, but it’s been a long time since he’s been around someone who made him want to talk this much. Ha-ri seems a bit stunned, and when he asks her what she wanted to talk about, she falters.
In Ha-ri’s hotel, a coworker finds her note to herself where she’d written several excuses not to see Sung-joon again. Her fiance wouldn’t like it, she’s moving to Jeju Island, etc. At the restaurant Ha-ri is unprepared for Sung-joon’s question, and her hesitation causes him to comment that she seems bland.
As she watches him eat, Ha-ri thinks to herself that he got hurt tonight because of her. Telling him the truth today would be hurtful, so she’ll just tell him next time. I dunno, I don’t like the way her expression seems to be softening towards him.
Worried, Hye-jin paces outside their little cottage waiting for Ha-ri to come home. When she does, Ha-ri says she just fell and hurt her hand. She sits in her room feeling conflicted, especially when Sung-joon texts her to make sure she’s okay.
In voice-over, Hye-jin muses that you only see as much of the world as you know about it, and the same could be said for people. The more you get to know someone, the more clearly you see who they are… just like Ha-ri that day with Sung-joon.
In the morning Sung-joon is at the coffee shop engrossed in his tablet as usual, but this time the barista takes the flowers before he can drink them, ha. He starts to leave but gets a call that has him sitting again, and he accidentally sits on a notebook that someone left in the chair.
He hears a familiar voice telling him that the notebook is hers, and looks up to see young Hye-jin, looking exactly as she looked the last time he saw her — or more accurately Hye-rin, who is a dead ringer for her older sister at that age. Hye-jin walks in at that moment looking for her sister, sees Sung-joon smile at her sister, and goes straight into panic mode.
Bravo, Show — what a clever way to throw our hero into turmoil, by putting him face-to-face with his first love’s sister, who looks identical to the girl he remembers. This adds a whole new dimension to the love triangle/deception switcheroo that Hye-jin and Ha-ri are playing on Sung-joon, especially since he’s starting to see the cracks in Ha-ri’s claims to be Hye-jin. And as much of a loose cannon as Hye-rin seems to be, I have no doubt that she’s not going to make keeping her secret easy for her noona.
Aside from noticing a couple of minor but confusing editing choices, I’m really enjoying the show as it settles a bit further into it’s groove. It still feels a little like we’re not done getting all of our players to their starting positions, but I kind of like that there’s no hurry and that we’re getting to know the characters naturally. The show is a bit wackier in places than I expected, but I find the simple love story very endearing and I love the strong focus on friendship while we slowly approach the romance. And I know that it’s a drama and that means drama, but I can’t help wishing the show wouldn’t make Ha-ri fall for Sung-joon, though it seems that’s where things are going. The girls’ friendship is one of the best things about this show, and I would hate to see Ha-ri hurt her friend that way, even unintentionally.
There’s been a lot of criticism of Hwang Jung-eum’s acting (in this as well as her previous dramas) and I thought I’d weigh in on that while it’s still early days. I’ve seen her in several dramas, and I think she’s a talented actress who is capable of playing the subtler emotions quite effectively. For that reason, I’m looking forward to the part of the show where she and Sung-joon spend more time together, because goodness knows the actors have proven that they have chemistry like whoa, and I expect her hysterical behavior to simmer down once that chemistry kicks in. I do agree that at times she goes a little too far with the shrieking and overwrought behavior, and this drama is no exception. It’s especially strange to see her younger self portrayed as being so poised and well-spoken, then see Hye-jin lose the ability to form a sentence just because she’s nervous. People don’t really act like that.
BUT — this is a rom-com. The overall feel of the show is a little zany, and I don’t think any of the characters are meant to be like people you would meet in a real office setting. Several other people in the Most office are also over-the-top, larger than life caricatures and behave in ways that regular people just don’t behave at work. I think that Hye-jin’s tendency to be very loud makes her character seem worse when really, she’s not the only Most employee who acts bizarre, not by a long shot. And I’m hoping that as she settles into the job and her relationship with Sung-joon gets less antagonistic, the screaming will calm down, as already seems to be happening. So for me, I’m willing to just go with it for now… if she’s still freaking out and shrieking a few weeks from now, we’ll talk again.
Speaking of over-the-top characters, Shin-hyuk is killing me dead. This role is tailor-made for Choi Si-won, who seems to shine more the goofier he’s allowed to be. I was honestly expecting basically the same character he played in King of Dramas, which would have garnered no complaints from me because I adored him as Hyun-min. But I’m happily surprised (and further impressed by Si-won’s acting ability) to find that Shin-hyuk is a whole different flavor of quirky, not to mention whip-smart despite his first impression as the office clown. He’s already onto Hye-jin and I have no doubt he’ll be the first to figure out her secret, though he seems like a good guy and I don’t expect him to use the information against her. In fact, he would make a pretty amazing co-conspirator, if Hye-jin can bring herself to trust him. I rarely suffer from Second Lead Syndrome, but I sort of love the way Shin-hyuk looks at Hye-jin already. I almost hope they keep things firmly in the Friend Zone or my poor heart may not make it.
As for Sung-joon, he’s a bit of an enigma. I’m a huge (huge) fan of Park Seo-joon’s ever since Witch’s Romance, but I’m finding this character less immediately accessable than Dong-ha — or even Ri-on, whose whole persona was based on being mysterious. I don’t find any fault with Park Seo-joon’s portrayal, but it’s just how the character is written. I think a lot of viewers are put off by Sung-joon’s ability to compartmentalize his work persona and his personal life, and for now we’re seeing more of him at work where he’s got to be a hardass in order to save the magazine. He has good reason, but I can’t wait to see more of the Sung-joon that’s been carrying a torch for a girl who could see through the chubby little boy to the sweet soul we know is in there. Deep down. Somewhere.
It’s different from the usual jerk-meets-girl-and-becomes-nice story, because we already know the hero is a nice guy and the jerk behavior is just for professional reasons. We’re seeing glimpses of the true Sung-joon as he reconnects with his old friend, or thinks he does, and the way his eyes become soft when he talks about his childhood make me think that the sweet little boy is still there, he’s just built up some armor as he grew older. As he said himself, he hasn’t had anyone he felt safe to be himself around in a long time. I appreciate that Sung-joon’s journey won’t be about changing who he is, as happens in so many dramas, but about reminding him of the person he’s always been. It’s just that he hasn’t found the person who will be able to do that for him just yet, but when he and the real Hye-jin finally reconnect, I think we’re going to be in for a real treat.