She Was Pretty: Episode 9
Hye-jin’s makeover heralds a shift in her attitude, and while the changes mostly meet with approval from her peers, that doesn’t mean there aren’t people who miss the old version, too. Meanwhile Sung-joon’s perfect facade begins to crack, and he needs his old friend more than ever — will they find each other in time?
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Hye-jin visits a professional stylist to do something about her “vicious curls,” and though the cost makes her gasp, she goes for it. Next she goes shopping for new clothes, and gets a professional makeover. When she strides into her building full of confidence and looking like a million bucks, the management department employees don’t even recognize her.
The Most staff are so shocked at her new polished appearance that they can’t do a single thing but gape at her. She announces that she’s back, and how much do I love the pounce-hug that Joon-woo gives her? Hee, Shin-hyuk tries to object, and Seul actually pulls Joon-woo off her jealously.
Sung-joon just smiles at Hye-jin from his office, which she acknowledges with a small bow.
Poor Shin-hyuk looks like he wants to cry when he sees the changes in Hye-jin, calling her freckles “Jackson’s best feature.” He whines that the old Jackson was much prettier, which just makes me love him even more.
Seul even makes a point to tell Hye-jin how nice she looks, calling her “unni” for the first time. She seems to regret that her actions (sending Hye-jin to move her car) nearly got her fired.
Hye-jin notices that Onion Head has been growing while she was gone, and figures someone must have been watering him. She notices the sad face that Sung-joon drew on the back side, and bows to him again in thanks for taking care of her little friend. Sung-joon smiles at her again, and she tentatively smiles back. This doesn’t go unnoticed by Shin-hyuk.
Chief Editor Kim doesn’t even recognize Hye-jin, but when she introduces herself, Chief Editor Kim finally tells her she looks “very Most-like.” Success!
Shin-hyuk hustles Hye-jin out for coffee, where he learns that Sung-joon personally asked her to come back to Most. She tells Shin-hyuk that she has a goal — to replace her father’s printing machine. He offers to help her, and stay right by her side.
Sung-joon calls Ha-ri, who’s been avoiding his calls, to ask her to make some time for him today. He offers to come to the hotel, but Ha-ri forbids him from coming there, ever. She offers to meet him after work, but when she hangs up, she clutches at her stomach again in pain.
The Most team have a meeting to plan the twentieth edition anniversary event. They’re expecting people from other Most publications, as well as famous models, designers, and artists, so they want to make it large and luxurious.
Reporter Cha notices that both Sung-joon and Hye-jin seem preoccupied, and Hye-jin admits that she thinks that having an extravagant celebration is too cliché. It doesn’t go with her concept of highlighting secondary characters from famous stories.
Sung-joon agrees — the concept is about looking at the world from a different point of view, so he thinks they should do something different. Hye-jin suggests doing something the opposite of brilliance, and Sung-joon says they should focus on the people behind the scenes. Reporter Cha points out that that’s everyone in this room — they are the people behind the glamorous magazine.
For the first time, the entire Most team is energized and inspired, and they bounce ideas off each other excitedly. Shin-hyuk makes a point to let everyone know the idea was Hye-jin’s, and the team applauds her while Sung-joon smiles softly.
Later in his office, Sung-joon returns Hye-jin’s idea sketchbook and admits that he read every page. He even added some ideas, and he compliments her on her “cozy” way of seeing things. He’s not finished, and presents her with a gift of her employee ID, now in a lovely leather holder. He grins at her not to lose it again., calling it his “welcome” gift. He stops her one more time, saying that he forgot the most important thing: It’s great that she’s back. Awww.
That night Ha-ri watches Sung-joon as he waits for her in a coffee shop, too nervous to go in. She claims that something came up when he calls her, and that she has to go out of the country. He’s disappointed, and just asks her to call him when she comes back.
Ha-ri ends up collapsing in a convenience store, in too much pain to even walk, and thank goodness Shin-hyuk is there eating and takes her to the hospital. It turns out that Ha-ri is making herself sick from stress — she clearly hasn’t eaten or slept in days.
Shin-hyuk stays until Ha-ri wakes, knowing this is all because she can’t bring herself to tell Sung-joon the truth. He reminds her that she knows Sung-joon and Hye-jin are each other’s first love, but Ha-ri cries that Sung-joon is her first love, too.
Late that night, Ha-ri finds Hye-jin cooking for her, and asks if she’s stressed — she knows Ha-ri gets stomachaches when she’s stressed. It’s been happening since she was young, and her stepmother would only throw money at her to buy medicine. It was Hye-jin who would bring her porridge and take care of her. Ha-ri had tearfully promised to live with Hye-jin forever, and always treat her well.
Now Ha-ri watches while Hye-jin fusses over stew and offers to sleep with her tonight to make sure she’s okay. She gives Hye-jin a grateful backhug, saying that she’s the real medicine. Hye-jin is alarmed at her tears, but Ha-ri just hugs her again and says that she’s fine.
Hye-jin looks nice at work the next morning as well, and her coworkers ask why she didn’t do this sooner, if she knew how. She claims she was paying off student loans.
There’s another meeting to plan the twentieth anniversary celebration, but when Ah-reum comes in late because of car trouble, Sung-joon berates her in front of everyone. Guess he hasn’t changed that much after all.
Shin-hyuk notices Hye-jin’s new ID case and complains even more about how much she’s changed. He laughs when Hye-jin says it’s a gift from Sung-joon and that she hopes they can be true colleagues now, spitting A ‘welcome’ present, HA, how absurd, HA!!. He’s so cute when he’s jealous.
Shin-hyuk even follows Hye-jin’s bus that night, hollering, “Jackson! ‘Welcome,’ HA!” He’s certifiably nuts, this guy. She jumps off the bus and he presents her with a gorgeous new bag, as his welcome gift. He even makes a fuss over how much bigger it is than Sung-joon’s welcome present, hee.
Hye-jin tries to refuse, but when Shin-hyuk threatens to give it to a passing dog, she can’t let such a pretty bag go that way. She does manage to ward off his adorable aegyo as he begs her to take him to eat, though I don’t know how she does it.
The Most team get ready for their anniversary celebration, and Sung-joon practices the speech he wrote in English to welcome their overseas guests. We get a whole lineup of famous guests, including UEE, Seo In-gook, Park Hyung-shik, and even Lee Jun-ki. (Footage was taken from the recent Seoul Drama Awards.)
But Sung-joon isn’t there yet, and the Most team start to get worried. When the MC arrives (another cameo by KIM JE-DONG) he mentions that he was running late because of rain and traffic, and Hye-jin’s worry for Sung-joon intensifies.
Reporter Cha decides to delay the start of the event to wait for Sung-joon, but Kim Je-dong can’t quite hear the instructions through his headset and he misinterprets that they want him to give a speech. He starts the event early, and the Most team start to panic.
Knowing that Sung-joon has trouble riding in cars when it’s raining ever since his mother died, Hye-jin watches nervously for him at the front door. Meanwhile a video plays for the guests, of all the Most employees hard at work (or not, ha), and it’s a big hit. But after the video it’s time for Sung-joon’s speech, and he’s still not there.
Luckily, Reporter Cha remembers that Shin-hyuk also speaks English, and tells him to go make the opening speech. Shin-yuk balks but eventually starts to head onstage, then stops to see that Chief Editor Kim, dressed more outrageously than ever before, has beaten him to it.
She proceeds to tell the entire audience that, while they were probably expecting an extravagant event, what they have instead is a disaster. It’s ugly, not beautiful, and absolutely un-Most-like. She actually calls the event shit, and her team crazy.
Sung-joon is currently pulled over on the side of the road, sobbing in his car, frozen in fear. Hye-jin is beside herself, but she gets a text from Reporter Cha to get herself to the event hall, just as Chief Editor Kim is now calling the entire editing team shit, and saying that they looked like human zombies during the planning of this event. ~cringe~
But she changes her tone and says that to her, they’re all beautiful. They are the darkness that allows the stars to shine, and they do this every month as publication deadline approaches. The Most team start to tear up as Chief Editor Kim wraps up with a simple, “I love you.”
Sung-joon finally shows up just as she’s wrapping up her speech, pale but okay. He sees that the event is underway and leaves the event hall, looking deeply disappointed in himself when Chief Editor Kim finds him. She asks him what happened, but he can only repeat, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Hye-jin finds him still there later, and sits near him without a word. He doesn’t acknowledge her presence, but he doesn’t send her away, either.
Back at work, Ah-reum snarks about Sung-joon being late to the anniversary event when he gave her such a hard time about being late to one meeting. They all make fun of him, until finally Hye-jin speaks up. She says they’re being too harsh when they don’t even know him, which makes them all wonder what she knows.
Before she can do more than deny it, Sung-joon calls her aside to ask why she spoke up for him. She says they made her angry and gets all worked up again, and Sung-joon just stares at her for a long moment, then chuckles. He says that even though she’s overreacting, it’s nice to have someone on his side.
He admits that they’re right to criticize him, because he did make a mistake. Regardless of personal issues, he created a problem and it’s his responsibility. But he thanks her anyway, and remarks that giving her that gift was worth it. Awww.
Later, Reporter Cha asks Hye-jin if she would be interested in writing an article. Since the storybook concept is hers, they want her to write an article on fairy tales. She tells Hye-jin to give it a shot — if it’s not good, they won’t print it, so there’s no harm in trying.
Hye-jin still declines, though both Shin-hyuk and Sung-joon overhear the conversation and make mental note. Shin-hyuk urges her to at least try, then calls out to Reporter Cha that she’ll do it. HA.
That night Shin-hyuk runs into Ha-ri again, and she asks him for a favor — a ride on his motorcycle. She urges him to put on some speed, and they ride through the streets whooping and hollering.
At her bus stop Hye-jin sees a poster with “Dance in the Country” featured, and smiles at it. Sung-joon stops to look as well, neither of them noticing the other right away. Sung-joon asks if Hye-jin likes Renoir, and she admits that she doesn’t know much about him, but looking at this painting makes her feel good.
Sung-joon suddenly morphs into his younger self in Hye-jin’s eyes, and tells her that Renoir only drew happy moments, because he wanted to treasure those moments through his art. That’s why you feel happy when you look at his paintings. Hye-jin giggles at chubby little Sung-joon in his turtleneck and holding his coffee… so cute.
Sung-joon leaves, then bounces right back to sit with Hye-jin until her bus comes. Just because the weather is nice, you know. He’s so transparent. Out of nowhere he asks if she’s heard of the god of opportunity and shows her another painting of a naked man from his phone, and the first thing Hye-jin notices is his “pepper” (Korean slang for a man’s… manhood). HAHA, Sung-joon hides it with his thumb and tells her to look at his face.
He explains why the man only has hair at the front of his head — when opportunity comes close, it’s easy to grab it. But once it passes, it can’t be caught again. Sung-joon says it just popped into his head, and Hye-jin’s bus arrives so she’s left to wonder what that was all about. It’s only after she’s boarded that she realizes that Sung-joon knew which bus was hers.
Ha-ri and Shin-hyuk finish their ride, and she thanks him for helping her. It’s time she put things back where they belong. He gives her a high-five, then asks her not to talk to Hye-jin about him for a while. He doesn’t want her knowing he lives in a hotel, and his puppy-dog face convinces Ha-ri to keep his secret.
Ha-ri goes home and writes a letter to Sung-joon. Hye-jin lies in bed thinking about Sung-joon’s god of opportunity, and she gets up to look through her box of childhood keepsakes again. Her old awards for writing give her confidence, and she goes to work the next day determined to try writing that article.
Reporter Cha gives her some materials she’d compiled to help her, sure she was going to give the article a shot after all, and Hye-jin is bolstered by her confidence in her abilities. She sits at her desk and sees Sung-joon watching her, and they both mime grabbing their forelocks — taking hold of opportunity when it comes.
Shin-hyuk helps Hye-jin carry some children’s books up from the library for inspiration, offering his help on the article if she needs it. He brags about how amazing he is and how other magazines are constantly scouting him — then trips and falls flat on his face, scattering books everywhere. Yep, he’s smooooth.
But later he complains that she’s working so hard, that she doesn’t have time to go eat or talk to him anymore. Still, he watches her work with admiration in his eyes.
Hye-jin works late into the night and falls asleep at her desk, waking up later to find that someone left an energy drink for her. She doesn’t notice Sung-joon watching her from the hall, and smiling.
The next day she leaves to interview a children’s author, and runs into Sung-joon in the parking garage. He warmly wishes her luck on her first assignment, and sends a little Fighting! her way as she goes.
Hye-jin thinks she’s borrowing Reporter Cha’s car, but she took the wrong keys and ended up driving Ah-reum’s car to her interview — the car that still isn’t working well. Her coworkers figure out what’s happened and worry about her driving an unsafe car, and for good reason as the car begins to smoke and falter on the road.
Shin-hyuk rushes out of the office, and a few minutes later when Sung-joon calls in, he overhears people worrying over Hye-jin in the background. He hears that she accidentally took an unsafe car, then sees a news article pop up on his tablet about a woman Hye-jin’s age, critically injured in a car accident in the town she was traveling to.
He goes into instant panic mode, and runs out of the coffee shop, right past Ha-ri who was coming to meet with him and give him her letter. Sung-joon and Shin-hyuk both race to find Hye-jin, and of course it begins to rain.
Sung-joon’s mind races with all the moments he’s spent with Hye-jin, from the big ones like her sheltering him during his panic attack in the road, to small ones like his helping her put a bandage on her finger. He thinks about Shin-hyuk asking him if he has feelings for her, and guns the motor even harder.
Sung-joon arrives at the scene of the accident first and, terrified, asks about the driver. He screams at the policeman to tell him, but he hears her voice calling him from the side of the road — whew, she’s okay.
Sung-joon doesn’t even hesitate, just pulls Hye-jin into his arms, relieved beyond words. From across the street, Shin-hyuk stands and watches.
Okay, I feel better about Hye-jin’s makeover now that we know she did it for herself and for her professional persona. I’m not a fan of the makeover to get a man, or even worse, the makoever BY a man, in order to make a heroine acceptable dating material. But for Hye-jin to take charge of her life and do something nice for herself? You go, girl. (Though, I’m a leeeetle annoyed at her coworkers for being niceer to her after the makeover. How you treat someone shouldn’t be contingent upon how they look.) Nevertheless, it’s nice to see Hye-jin coming into her own, and finding something that she loves and excels at. Her problem has never been her looks, but lack of confidence, and watching her rebuild that confidence through her actions, and not her appearance, is just wonderful to see. Her improved appearance is just the outward manifestation of her inner confidence starting to shine again.
I was mistaken about Sung-joon figuring out that Hye-jin is HIS Hye-jin, though I’m not terribly disappointed about it, because I would rather Ha-ri fess up and apologize for what she’s done to him. But while I want her to confess and take her medicine for lying, I also want Sung-joon to figure it out himself. It does make me wonder — what will it take for this guy to figure out the truth on his own? He has so many clues that prove that Hye-jin is his childhood friend: the “viciously curly” hair joke she makes, her “It’s a go!” chirp whenever a light turns green, not to mention how comfortable he feels around her when he’s usually so prickly around people. I suppose it’s that damn puzzle piece keeping him from truly putting the pieces together (no pun intended) because remember, he still doesn’t know that Hye-jin and Ha-ri even know each other. If he knew that, it would be simple to figure out that Ha-ri took Hye-jin’s puzzle piece. But without that one piece of information that ties them all together, Sung-joon has no choice but to believe that only his Hye-jin would have the missing piece of his puzzle.
But as frustrated as I am that he hasn’t figured it out himself, I’m mostly glad he still doesn’t know, because it’s allowing him to come to like Hye-jin without those trappings of the past getting in the way. He’s coming to appreciate her for herself, and for how she cares about him. He’s starting to realize that she genuinely likes him despite how he’s treated her in the past, and she’s showing him in different ways that she’s got his back… even if all she can do is sit with him when he’s screwed up, so that he’s not alone.
It was a bit sad, but also telling, when he said it was nice to have someone on his side for once — he’s such a lonely person, and always has been. I get the feeling he was isolated as a child because of his appearance and his nerdlike tendencies, but he’s isolated as an adult by choice. He’s not interested in getting people to like him, and ends up pushing them away. I’d be curious to know whether that’s because he’s just used to living his life that way, or if he has a deeper reason. But he’s finally beginning to understand that first loves aside, who a person is now is what matters. He’s becoming willing to lose the person he thinks is his first love, and the girl he’s been thinking of for nearly twenty years, for a woman he cares about now. The truth that they’re actually one and the same is a lucky bonus, but I’m glad he’s getting to learn that important life lesson before he finds out who Hye-jin truly is.
On the flip side, even though Hye-jin does know the truth, it feels as though she’s learning to like Sung-joon in the same way — as the person he is now, rather than the kid he used to be. Even though she’s the one who knows of their past, she’s put that behind her and is getting to know the Sung-joon that is here now. Lucky for him, she does have that knowledge of their connection that allows her to see past the prickly exterior and give him another chance when he behaves like an ass. She’s not letting the past get in the way, but it does help Hye-jin understand Sung-joon now. It does seem as though her feelings for him now are entirely new — that she’s let go of the past, and that her growing affection for the adult Sung-joon is something all it’s own.
I’m also happy that Ha-ri took some time to reflect on her actions, and is ready to do the right thing. I don’t think she really loves Sung-joon — they barely know each other! And she never seems happy round him, because she’s so busy trying to be Hye-jin that she can never be herself. On the other hand, when she’s with Shin-hyuk she positively lights up, and I think that’s where her true future lies. She can be herself with him, and he’s astute enough to see through her facade to the person she really is. I just hope she gets over her own heartache over Sung-joon soon, because Shin-hyuk is realizing that he’s losing and chance Hye-jin, and Ha-ri is going to have one sad puppy on her hands very soon.