Skip to main content

What Happens to My Family Ep 21: Kang-shim & Tae-joo

Quite a melancholic and contemplative episode for our couple. Though there are still some laughs, the overall tone is quieted, and the obvious decrease of exaggerated expressions and quirky sound effects hammer the point that the problems our couple is facing are serious. Kang-shim continues to struggle with her emotions which are complicated by Tae-joo's advances and Byun's sudden appearance, and Tae-joo finally gets a dose of reality which will hopefully spur him to reflect upon his intentions and actions.
Side note: Apologies for the delay on episode 21. I haven't dropped these mini recaps (yet) and am working on episode 22 right now. More importantly, there's only a few gifs this time because the scenes seemed more appropriate as pictures than gifs. Anyways, onward!

Kang-shim stares in disbelief at Byun uttering "no", and Tae-joo asks what she means. Byun acts nonchalant and says, "Long time no see, Kang-shim." Kang-shim is so flustered she heads out in the wrong direction which Tae-joo points out, and she turns around to leave. Byun calls out to her and asks if they could talk. Kang-shim stops momentarily but continues on her way without even looking back.

Tae-joo keeps calling after her to no avail and confronts Byun about his intrusion. Tae-joo yells at Byun for punching him and ruining an important conversation. Byun apologizes and says that he thought Tae-joo was a pervert. Byun hands Tae-joo his business card  and tells Tae-joo to contact him for any medical expenses. Seeing that Byun is a lawyer, Tae-joo inquires about his relationship with Kang-shim, and Byun replies that they're just acquaintances. With that, Byun leaves, but Tae-joo is still suspicious and thinks aloud that they don't seem like acquaintances.

Kang-shim is at home sitting alone at the dining table lost in thought (or just stunned and thoughtless) when the rest of the family starts coming in after fetching Dal-bong from the police station. Aunt Cha asks Kang-shim why she didn't pick up her phone if she was just sitting here, and informs her that Daddy Cha was hospitalized. Kang-shim just berates Dal-bong which breaks the camel's back for Aunt Cha. She yells at everybody to let the two siblings fight, and reprimands them as undutiful children. Seeing red, Aunt Cha shouts that Kang-shim didn't even ask about her father and just started fighting with her brother. Aunt Cha leaves in a huff, and Kang-shim also storms back to her room.

I have to admit, though I knew that Kang-shim probably wasn't in her right mind after seeing Byun, I was nevertheless shocked alongside Aunt Cha at Kang-shim's reaction. She didn't even bat an eyelash at the news of her father's hospitalization, and instead, she started yelling at Dal-bong. Maybe she needed someone to vent her anger on, but still, I would have thought she would have at least asked if her father was alright.

Young-sul peeks into Kang-shim's room since her outburst was a bit uncharacteristic of her. Young-sul asks if Kang-shim acted out like that because she was trying to hide her guilt towards them for not being able to help. Kang-shim mumbles that she saw him. Young-sul immediately connects the dots and is furious that Byun dared show his face after promising not to appear in front of Kang-shim.

Kang-shim wonders why he's back, and Young-sul admits that he's been divorced for three years. At that, Kang-shim wonders if he wants to start again. Young-sul tells her to slap him if he even dares confront her about starting over. Kang-shim helplessly stares at her cousin and meekly asks if she'd really be able to do that.

Young-sul grabs Kang-shim's face and tells her to get herself together. She tells her to remember Director Moon and tries to convince Kang-shim that she's not the same person fourteen years ago. She says if that boldfaced jerk comes crawling back, then Kang-shim is suppose to kick him to the curb!

Okay... I'm a bit surprised by how much Byun affected Kang-shim's confidence. I would have thought Kang-shim would be more angry than worried over Byun. Obviously, she still has residual feelings, but I still firmly believe she wouldn't take him back. For one, the story leaves no room for any other endgame other than Kang-shim and Tae-joo, but more importantly, Young-sul is right when she tells Kang-shim that she isn't the same person she was fourteen years ago. Kang-shim has had fourteen years of hurt and reflection thanks to Byun, and the way she views his betrayal was evident in her talk with Kang-jae about his marriage and her own conviction to stay single. Unless the writer wants to throw away 20+ episodes of characterization (which has been done by plenty of drama writers), I still doubt Kang-shim will take Byun back. However, Byun still serves as a good catalyst for our couple and is a clear obstacle that Kang-shim has to overcome before our couple gets together.

Tae-joo frets at home and even chokes on his drink because of his cut. He paces nervously and wonders over Byun.

Kang-shim calls Daddy Cha in the morning on her way to work. She wanted to stop by before work, but she wasn't able to sleep well last night and is now running late. She apologies to Daddy Cha and says she'll visit in the evening. Daddy Cha, who's been feeling lonely at the hospital surrounded by patients with families, is delighted that Kang-shim even called and tells her not to worry about visiting. Once she hangs up, Daddy Cha even brags to complete strangers that his busy daughter called since she was worried about him. Poor Daddy Cha, he's so proud of his children that even if they do something so trivial (and arguably, expected of them), Daddy Cha can't help but gush. His children, Kang-shim included, really need to treat him better. Maybe it's because I recently had a death in the family, but people always seem to say they should have done better once it's too late. Unfortunately, I wished those feelings would spur people to be good to those who are alive, but sometimes the sentiments don't always crossover. Anyways, hopefully, the Cha children will learn this lesson before it's too late.

Kang-shim gets to work and runs into Tae-joo in front of the lobby elevators. He acts terse, still as petty as ever. Kang-shim tells him that she was late, and he asks if she slept well last night. She lies and says she did, and Tae-joo hilariously eyes her and replies, "Is that so? I didn't sleep well."

Pwahahaha! I feel so bad for Kang-shim, but Tae-joo's pettiness is in a league of its own.

In the office, Tae-joo asks who that man was, what is her relationship to him, and the kicker, is he the guy from fourteen years ago? Kang-shim is stunned silent, and he says despondently that it appears he's right. Kang-shim asks how he knew about that, but Tae-joo just acts coldly and dismisses her from his office. 

Aunt Cha calls Kang-shim and Kang-jae and orders them to help pay for Dal-bong’s fee. The siblings are quick refuse stating that they are tight on money themselves. Aunt Cha won’t take no for an answer and tells them to act like older siblings for once.

After Kang-shim ends her call, Tae-joo leaves his office to go to a meeting, and when Kang-shim gets up to escort him, he tells her he’ll go alone adding to her stress.

The Cha siblings have all gathered to discuss Dal-bong’s compensation issue. Kang-jae yells at him about his reckless behavior. Dal-bong retorts that he doesn’t need their help and will take care of everything by himself. Kang-jae reprimands Dal-bong for his misplaced bravado and hands over 3,000,000 won saying that’s all he could scrap up right now. Dal-bong is mad at their nagging and self-righteous attitudes, and leaves without taking the money. Though Kang-jae might not be a caring and attentive older brother, he doesn’t take the money back but instead tells Kang-shim to hand it to Dal-bong later with her sum since Dal-bong will need despite his protests.

Back at the company, Tae-joo returns from his meeting but runs into the Chairman at the elevators. He gives his formal greeting, but the Chairman seems to have something on his mind. He tells his two secretaries to turn around and cover their ears. Kang-shim arrives around the corner just then but signals the other secretaries to ignore her as she keeps her presence a secret.

The Chairman says that Kang-shim is clean and isn’t someone he can mess around with fleeting emotions. Tae-joo asks who said his feelings were momentarily, Madame Baek? The Chairman scolds him and tells him that she’s his new mother. Tae-joo, anger slowly bubbling up inside, says that he only has one mother, and tells the Chairman that he finds her interference with his life unpleasant.

The Chairman calls him narrow-minded, and asks if he’s ready to take full responsibility and marry Kang-shim. Now more surprised than angry, Tae-joo replies that love doesn’t necessarily equate marriage. Chairman says that’s nonsense and asks if he’s even ever thought of Kang-shim’s position. He gives his son a hearty dose of reality and explains how Kang-shim’s career could be tainted because of his foolish and brash actions. He calls him egotistical and ignorant of his own place. He warns him to not hurt Kang-shim. After sharing his words of wisdom, the Chairman disappears with a twirl of his cape in a puff of smoke.

Okay, maybe that last part was my imagination. He just leaves on the elevator, but really, the Chairman had a saintly glow during this scene in my eyes. I admit that I was starting to doubt him which in retrospect was what the writer was doing purposefully. He was introduced as the understanding and open-minded Chairman who adored his Chief Secretary on a professional and personal level. Then when he heard about Tae-joo’s interest in her, he rushed over to Tae-joo’s place and cryptically scolded him about abusing his power and messy relationships. Then the Chairman kept saying things like “I survived” which even made Kang-shim tilt her head in confusion. Luckily, this episode cleared away any misunderstandings and finally revealed what those cryptic behaviors all meant: the Chairman’s team Kang-shim 100%! His talk encompassed all of my own concerns about their relationship. He clearly understands the working environment and respects how much effort Kang-shim put in to succeed. It’s refreshing to hear him stick up for her and her career in such a patriarchal society and business-world, and it was extra satisfying to hear him call out Tae-joo’s indecisive attitude.

While our petty yet adorable Tae-joo is charming in his earnest courtship, he needs to deal with the huge pink elephant in the room, and luckily for him, he has a father willing to point it out and not beat around the bush. I don’t think Tae-joo’s feelings are momentary like the Chairman said, but Tae-joo really needs to rethink his future with Kang-shim if he wants to honestly pursue her as a romantic interest. Hopefully this talk stirs something inside Tae-joo and seeing the introduction of a possible rival will light a fire under his behind about his marriage issues!

Now in his office, Tae-joo has his back against the door as Kang-shim walks in. He doesn’t even turn around to face her, and Kang-shim gives him a response to all his questions. She admits that the man is the one from fourteen years ago. However, he died in her heart fourteen years ago, and her ability to love died then, too. She adds, “That’s why I can never love again; just as you, Director, can never marry.”

Tae-joo turns around at that, and Kang-shim continues that they could never work so he should ignore it. He asks, “But what if I can’t stop worrying about you?” Swoon… oh gosh, this line and delivery just slays me.

Kang-shim starts to get a bit emotional but is able to keep it under control as she simply replies, “Then I’ll have to leave.” She says that he’s a good person, and she would hate to have to leave his side because of this matter.

Tae-joo asks, “Are you threatening me?”
Kang-shim says, “Threat, how could you call it a threat?”.
“Know your place and stop spilling your emotions. If you keep dragging around your feelings, [I’ll] leave. Isn’t that a threat?”
“They say the one who loves more is the weak one. Seeing Chief Secretary Cha and I, it appears that I’m the weak one.”
“Is it really an unsurmountable division, Chief Secretary Cha and I?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Is there not even a 1% chance?”
“No, there isn’t.”

Tae-joo holds back his tears, and Kang-shim reassures herself that she did the right thing without much conviction.

Aw, I feel bad for both of them. Kang-shim isn’t wrong in her stance because right now she values her career and Tae-joo’s advances only appear as a stumbling block. However, it’s clear that both of them like each other from their confrontation. Tae-joo is so earnest, and his plea for a sliver of hope was so sad and endearing. He sees Kang-shim’s “threat” as another act of abandonment. The way he said to control your feelings or else the other person will leave, really hints at an underlying issue that explains Tae-joo’s inability to open and trust others. The deliberate absence of pronouns not only makes his comment seem like something Kang-shim is saying to him, but it also reflects what the Chairman told him before.

Also, Kang-shim’s confession about not being able to love was sad because that’s why she couldn’t understand why Tae-joo (or anybody, really) would like her. In her opinion, she is doing the right thing for both of them because she can’t picture a happy future where they can be together and love each other.

Final Comments

Though I miss and want the laughs back, this was a needed confrontation that happened at the right moment for our couple. Kim Sang-kyung and Kim Hyun-joo are amazing, and I'm glad the show is getting first place in its timeslot now with over 30% in viewership ratings for this episode. Yeah~!

Comments on Other Stuff

The character of the hour this episode was actually the two dads: Papa Moon and Daddy Cha.

The Chairman's little speech/scolding to Tae-joo was awesome. I gushed about it above, but I'm really glad he confronted Tae-joo about it, echoing my sentiments. Besides his interactions with Tae-joo, he's also a great stepfather to Eun-ho. In fact, he seems like the better parent to Eun-ho than his actual mother who may have good, albeit ambitious, intentions for her son but doesn't truly understand him. The Chairman, on the other hand, seems to genuinely care for Eun-ho and also understands that he needs his own space and needs to grow at his own pace. Actually, I would argue that Papa Moon seems to be the "best" parent on the show, but parenting is so very much subjective and I actually hate comparing parenting styles and "outcomes". However, in terms of balancing between showering your kids with love and being stern when necessary, Papa Moon is the best at this. I wish Baek would take some pointers from her new husband because she's on my list for worst mother and stepmother in this show!

Daddy Cha also got to shine this episode but for different reasons than Papa Moon. Though I love Kang-shim and Tae-joo, Daddy Cha is the undeniable center of this show. He anchors everything and really delivers the pathos. This episode Daddy Cha was hospitalized, and the doctor told him about his examination results which we didn't get to hear. However, Daddy Cha breaks down in middle of a hallway and is completely distraught from the news, presumably. Hopefully, Daddy Cha doesn't have a terminal illness (lalala, I can't hear you! I shall wallow in my self-denial), and he won't die during the course of the show. Yoo Dong-geun is amazing as always, and his performance is so layered and nuanced. Really, kudos to him!