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Fermentation Family: Episode 2

Episode two is good, with lots of little hints here and there that might mean something in the future. We see a lot more of Ho-tae's past but it's still too early to say anything definite since it's only the second episode. Only time will tell.

Episode 2 Recap:

Ki Ho-tae enters and says he's here to help. He says that once he's eaten something, he's never forgotten its taste. However, he'll just stay until the owner returns.

Lee Gang-san pulls him over and asks what his purposes are, cooking is totally different from his past work. Ki Ho-tae tells her to not judge him since she doesn't know about his life; that's what her father told him. Gang-san then asks him if he's sincerely trying to turn a new leaf. He replies that he doesn't believe in sincerity which Gang-san says isn't good because a person can't cook without it. As she leaves, he stops her by saying he wants to know what it is and asks her to hire him.

Test time! Ho-tae has to create any dish, but the only requirement is that he use kimchi. He makes an egg roll with kimchi inside, and while Woo-joo says it's good, Gang-san shoots him down pointing out everything that's wrong with it. She votes against hiring him, and Woo-joo immediately votes for hiring him. They're even wearing opposite colors.

Gang-san asks Chef Kang (who I'm going to call uncle from now on) if he's a no, too. He gives her his signature expressionless look and bluntly says they need people. She sighs as Woo-joo happily introduces everyone.
Ho-tae thanks Gang-san for not telling everyone about his previous line of work, and she says he got the job fair and square... anyways it will only be temporary. Ho-tae asks why and is aghast to hear her say she's planning on selling the restaurant. He tells her she can't do that while she shoots back that it's none of his business and that he has no right to judge her when he doesn't even now their situation or her reasons.

He says he does know one thing, "I get that this here owner and you are the same. Your father who left his restaurant and children, and the person who's 'yippee' let's sell it, are both pros at running away. You are your father's daughter."

Gang-san balls up her fist and raises it to his face but lets out a huff and walks away.

She enters the kitchen looking at everything with tears glistening her eyes. She imagines her father and watches his back for a few fleeting moments. She stares at the prepared radish and carrots and asks out loud what exactly does her father want them to do.
Woo-joo opens Ho-tae's door to inform him that wake-up time is seven, and he quickly pulls his pants back up. She thanks him for coming back, but before she leaves, he stops her and asks about her blood type. She tells him she's A, and he says he's O. Woo-joo says that her father's O, too, and Ho-tae's interest perks up. He asks her if there was a son. He implies the owner, but simple and kind Woo-joo dejectedly says, "I'm not even married yet." I'm dying. She's so cute; I love her!

Ho-tae, slightly exasperated, asks a bit more specifically, did she ever have a brother, like a lost one? Woo-joo says no.
She goes back to her room to fawn over the baby when an idea suddenly comes to her. She runs to the kitchen where Gang-san is, and they both jump in joy having figured out Dad's intention at the same time. Plum kimchi!

As the girls get busy cutting and making the kimchi, Ho-tae slinks out of his room and starts his mini-investigation. He finds a picture of the family when the girls were still little and is sent down memory lane. Ho-tae shakes his head in frustration because he can't think of the man's face who took him to the amusement park that day.

He continues his search and happens upon a small notebook. He flips through the pages, not finding anything important, then a photo slips out. Ho-tae picks it up and is taken aback, speechless.

Gang-san and Woo-joo finish, triggering the story of this particular kimchi. Their mother, alive and well, explains how the plum kimchi, named after the plum flower due to its shape, is going to be a close friend to Woo-joo and Gang-san. The radish will help heal Gang-san's cough, and the carrot's vitamin A will help Woo-joo's anemia.

Woo-joo and Gang-san only have to pour in the soup they made to pickle the kimchi. Gang-san takes a test sip and shakes her head to the side: something is missing. Woo-joo takes a sip and starts listing everything they put in. When she says vinegar, Gang-san claps her hands and remembers one more crucial piece of information.
Their mother holds up a small pot and says that vinegar is mom and dad's friend. Carrot wants to be friends with radish, but unbeknownst to him, he takes away radish's vitamin c. Persimmon vinegar came along and allowed them to be friends of again. Their mother smiles and tells them to remember that whenever they're having troubles, as long as they have a persimmon vinegar like person next to them, they'll be able to find strength again.

Ki Ho-tae continues to mull over the picture of his younger self if Chunjiin's owner remembering his past self crying at the gates of the orphanage. We also see the origins of his name. Little Ho-tae stands in front of the orphanage director Bae Mi-kyung who happens across a book on her desk, Don Quixote by Cervantes.

Gang-san walks by and notices him standing in the dark outside by the pots. She calls out to him, but he only sighs confused about everything. Suddenly, Gang-san starts hitting her pot and yelling.

She screams, "What are you doing there! W-w-who are you? What's your deal?"
Ho-tae stares at her blankly and says, "What do you mean deal?"
"While I'm asking politely, quickly turn yourself in!"
"Turn myself in? Turn what in? Am I a robber or a spy?"

A head pops up behind the pots, and Gang-san turns wide-eyes and yells at the intruder. The intruder gets frightened by Gang-san and tries to make a run for it. She chases after the person, who looks like a teenage girl, with Ho-tae quickly joining the chase. Their racket alerts everyone in the house.

The girl is able to successfully exit through the door all the while Gang-san tries her best to catch her even hurling her pot in the process. Uncle simply watches arms crossed and lets the girl run by.
Ho-tae and Gang-san finally give up the chase out of breath, and she gives a look of disgruntlement towards Ho-tae and ribs him for his poor stamina. She comes back inside and asks uncle why he let her go. True to his stoic nature, he just turns around and walks back to his room.

Gang-san starts to think about why there would have been an intruder and suspiciously looks at Ho-tae. She wonders if she came to see Ho-tae... I mean what are the coincidences of an intruder coming in the same day he has? Her imagination starts to get wild as she starts making up more fantasies, "Is he a traitor now because of that man at the restaurant?!"
He brushes off all her crazy thoughts and the two finally stop their bickering and return to their rooms.
Morning arrives and Ho-tae begins his first day of work which happens to be washing and preparing a mountain of cucumbers.
Grandpa and Doctor arrive per usual for breakfast, and Gang-san asks for the money Grandpa owes them for all the meals he's eaten at their restaurant. Grandpa is flabbergasted at the amount and then surprised a second time when Gang-san admits that she's planning on selling the restaurant because of their debt.
They hear uncle yell outside and all gather to see what the problem might be.
Uncle lifts up and examines one of the cucumbers Ho-tae was washing, and his face cringes at the sight. Ho-tae is completely oblivious and states frankly that he was washing them because he was told to. Gang-san and Woo-joo run outside to see the damage. Gang-san reprimands him that cucumbers are to be washed with salt water, that's the most basic rule! 
Fanning the fire, Ho-tae adds that he used a sponge to wash it so they'd be clean and Woo-joo gasps in horror. She thought he was a chef? Uncle firmly declares that he's lost all right to be in the kitchen and what looks like might be an angry outburst from Ho-tae actually turns out to be his confession.

Ho-tae admits that he was bad at studying and happened to be good at fighting. The next thing he can do well is remembering the taste of food. He's also good at making kimchi soup. He continues that he's sorry about lying and pleads that he sincerely wants to stay at Chunjiin. He'll do everything they ask of him.
Uncle doesn't say anything and leaves Ho-tae without an answer. Ho-tae returns to his room and huffs, giving up on his search.
Gang-san goes to meet and talk with uncle. She asks him if he knew that Ho-tae wasn't a cook from the start, too. His silence makes him near impossible to read, so Gang-san continues to talk away. She semi-defends Ho-tae and says that he has absolutely no where to go. She uses hand motions to emphasis her point and unconsciously invades uncle's personal space as he's scooping out bean paste.
His face remains stone-hard and fixed which only causes Gang-san to exaggerate her voice even more. She starts to blame herself and says out loud that all this wouldn't have happened if Ho-tae didn't say those words that night.

She glances over to uncle to make sure he's listening and tells him that she brought him here instead of the hospital because he said he was hungry. Once she heard those words, she thought of what her father had said to her. Gang-san smiles; her aegyo on full force.
Gang-san's efforts were not for naught as uncle catches Ho-tae as he's about to leave. He head-motions him towards the restaurant which pretty means "I'll let you come back" in uncle-language.

I'm starting to like uncle who doesn't talk. He seems cold but there's this odd warmth about him like the way he's always listening and reliable to be there and be himself (no wishy-washiness from uncle).
Ho-tae goes back and wipes the tables, sweep the floors, and do the odd chores around the restaurant. He's unhappy but he still does everything he's suppose to do. Gang-san returns to her job to talk with the stand-in head chef. He tells her to cook under his junior who he's brought back from abroad. Gang-san says she won't.
He then goes a little too far and tells Gang-san to just go make some bean soup that anybody can make. Gang-san defends her father and says that he can't even match up to her father's cooking. He tells her then to go there if it's so great. She tells him she will and leaves. She tries to cheer herself up by telling herself that she did the right thing, but in the end, pulls her hair asking herself why she acted so impulsively.
She returns to Chunjiin where Woo-joo warmly greets her back and happily asks if she got fired. Gang-san says she wasn't fired. Gang-san tells her sister that she'll be here for the time-being since they need her help, but she's still planning on selling the restaurant to pay back their debt.
Ho-tae is peeling onions, and Woo-joo comes by to help. She gives him some pointers and then tells him to not feel so down. She can't cook either. She mentions that Gang-san is really smart and that her mother told her that Gang-san has a natural talent of taste. She waves her knife towards Ho-tae who jumps back and keeps pushing it away... it must be a side-effect from his previous job.
Gang-san tastes one of the pastes from the ceramic pots and remembers her younger self with her dad. Ho-tae comes by and asks her what's she going to do after she sells the restaurant. She tells him that she has no money not nothing to do.

Ho-tae then goes on to say that even if you go out in one punch, you have to go out with style. He tells her that it doesn't matter to him if the restaurant goes bankrupt or not, but he thinks it's way cooler to continue protecting something than giving up. She tells him that he's been reading way to many comic books, and he says whatever.
A teenage girl stands in front of the store's chalkboard and runs inside the restaurant in a huff. She grabs the baby in Woo-joo's arm and calls it Bom. The girl meets with everyone in the house and reveals that she's 19, still a high schooler.
She cries that she was scared and she just suddenly in the moment... She admits that she looked the board everyday and told herself she should leave but found herself coming back again and again. Uncle watches with a sad face that seems to be gulping down tears, and the girl's words bring back memories to Ho-tae who had an argument with the owner.
 The girl admits that she came by last night and apologizes. She tells them that she's going back home and telling the truth to her mother. They make her dinner, but uncle remains in the kitchen where he angrily throws down his knife and seems to be holding back tears. I'm guessing her situation has hit a sensitive spot for him.
Ho-tae, also, doesn't join in for dinner but stays at a corner of the house and looks down at his pocket watch from his childhood memories. He voiceovers that from that day, time and himself have stopped.
Woo-joo tearfully sends off the baby and her mother, and they all wave good-bye.
Gang-san reads her father's notebook which as meticulous and detailed notes about the customers whether it be food preferences to special dates and little habits. To dad, Chunjiin and its customers aren't just passing faces but unique individuals who each are special. Gang-san smiles as she reads, bringing back memories of her loving and thoughtful father.

Gang-san enters the restaurant and hands a piece of paper to Woo-joo. She tells her that it's the contract, and Woo-joo asks if she sold the restaurant. Gang-san tells her that it's her hobby to recycle and gives her the paper. She can burn it or throw it away; it's all hers. Woo-joo is ecstatic and hugs her sister.

Woo-joo yells that she loves it, loves it so much. Gang-san says she loves her too, but Woo-joo tells her she was talking about Chunjiin. Ho-tae laughs in the background, and I can't help but snicker along with him as Gang-san's face visible falls from disappoint and slight disbelief.

Gang-san takes out her apron which her mother had made for her and Woo-joo when they were small and another one for the future. Woo-joo's jaw drops at the sight to which Gang-san acts nonchalant and asks what. Woo-joo just smiles to herself finally having Gang-san back at the restaurant.

We cut to the chairman sitting in the backseat telling his secretary that he doesn't like to step in or see things get loud (so he better do things right). The scene changes to Jo Dae-shik, the number two of Ki Ho-tae's old gang, as he finishes a call from someone. He calls in Ho-tae's closest friend/lackey and threatens him to find Ho-tae.

Woo-joo asks Ho-tae to come shopping with her since she needs him to carry the groceries. She calls him Ho-tae-goon where "goon" would be a suffix Korean people put at the end of a boy's name. It implies a close and equal relationship which doesn't fit in with Ho-tae's "cool" image. He asks her to stop calling him "goon" and she says, "Okay, Ho-tae-goon." He looks visibly taken aback and a bit distraught while I'm here laughing. His facial expression is golden.

Ho-tae says that if his image would crumble if the "kids" saw him. (The word Ho-tae uses literally means kids but can also imply the guys which in this case would be his gangster underlings.) Woo-joo, genuinely looking surprised, asks if he has children blowing him off his feet again. Wide-eyed, Ho-tae defends that it's not like that but gives up before even trying. He huffs and tells her that he needs to at least change before he goes.

The two get ready to head out but see a little girl standing in front of the restaurant, cup-ramen in hand. Woo-joo recognizes her and calls out her name, Eun-bi, but she runs away. She starts to give chase dragging Ho-tae along.
Ho-tae finally catches her and either she lives really close by or Ho-tae is really slow and can barely catch up with a little girl.

Out of breath, he asks Woo-joo why they ran after her to which she bluntly states, "I was curious."

Woo-joo asks Eun-bi why she doesn't come eat anymore. Eun-bi says her mom said let's eat at home, but unlike Woo-joo, Ho-tae doesn't buy it. Eun-bi runs home telling her mom she's arrived.

As they leave, we see the truth behind her smile as she huddles in a corner of a leaking house bawling her eyes out. My heart rips in two.

The Chunjiin family sit down to eat dinner which mostly consists of cucumbers since due to someone's mistake, they'll be eating it for a very long time. Woo-joo asks who'll make the menu from now on since the menus their father had prepared have now run out.

Gang-san says that uncle will have to do it. He downs a bowl of makgulli and tells the girls to do it. They ask him in unison both visibly surprised that they're given such a huge task when uncle seems well apt to do it himself.
They run out of makgulli, and Gang-san gets up to retrieve more but stops, having remembered a song from before. She starts singing and even uncle, despite his poker face, can't help but tap along with his fingers which doesn't go unnoticed by Ho-tae. The family, forgetting everything else, immerses themselves in this small moment of happiness without any worries the future might bring.

I'm enjoying the show. It isn't love, but I do enjoy it and the characters.
My favorite character is Woo-joo because I find her delightful in her innocence and straightforwardness. I'm impressed how the writer has written in Eun-bi's story. She was eating in episode 1 with her mom, and I didn't even notice the first time around.
I enjoyed the scene with Gang-san and uncle because it showed another side of her character. She's been the more rational and sometimes cynical sister compared to Woo-joo who is like a fluffy rabbit in a field of daisy on a sunny Saturday afternoon (yes, I find her adorable). We, though, were able to see that Gang-san also has a more sweet and "Woo-joo"-like side to her. Her voice and embellished motions and tone reveal the little girl inside who knows how to act cute and prod at daddy's or uncle's heart to get them to listen.

The way she tries to convince uncle is furthered accentuated by uncle's lack of response which I also found a bit humorous. The subtle way he glances at her to tell her she's in his way or the way his face silently sighs when Gang-san blocks his path was wonderfully acted and made Gang-san's action even more cutesy. Also, the way she's able to freely talk to uncle also shows that he's been with them for a long time which makes me curious as to who he is. He's gotta have a back-story... right?