Love on a Rooftop – E02

Another happy episode as we get to learn more about our main characters.  Seung-Hye works hard to assist her family financially as her brother gets a paid graduate school education and her sister squanders their mother’s credit.  At the same time, Mi-Ja publicly throws her gauntlet at Soon-Im while the rest of the family is blissfully unaware of the coming storm.


It’s another morning and Seung-Hye is busy making morning calls for her part time job.


She cheerfully calls each of her subscribers as her aunt moans in bed that Seung-Hye needs to quit this job or Dae-Shil will never get proper sleep.  Seung-Hye smiles apologetically but continues on with her two last subscribers.


Afterwards, our busy workaholic moves on to check on the blood pressure level of our matriarch Soon-Im.  Soon-Im is noticeably cold and standoffish toward Seung-Hye’s loving nagging, which contrasts starkly with how she treats the younger Seung-Ah… However, Seung-Hye isn’t put off as she says goodbye to her mother and brother (Yoon Seung-Jae) before going off to her other part time job as a tour guide.


Meanwhile, the VIP from Mi-Ja’s restaurant (Jang Beom-Seok) hands over his new hire (Do-Jin’s) proposal for saving their restaurant/chain to his seemingly lovely daughter Jang Se-Ryung.  I assume she’s going to be Seung-Hye’s rival for Do-Jin’s love.  Se-Ryung reviews the proposal thoughtfully leading use to believe that she’s no sheltered flower; rather, she is being groomed as her father’s heir.


At the same time, we slowly inch over toward our main conflict.  Mi-Ja goes on television under her professional name as Yang Yoon-Yi and Dae-Shil sees the broadcast.  (For convenience sake, I will continue to call her Mi-Ja.  But I think I should point out that in achieving her success, Mi-Ja must have changed her name…)

The interviewer compliments Mi-Ja’s beauty and her signature dandelion tea.  Mi-Ja smiles humbly that she learned the tea from Soon-Im, who not only passed on her tea recipes to Mi-Ja but also took care of Mi-Ja in the past and taught her about life.  She asks for forgiveness from Soon-Im, whom she hasn’t been able to properly greet yet and promises to thank her properly.  Mi-Ja’s speaks serenely but her choice of words is entertaining as each sentence can be interpreted to have a different meaning. Unassuming viewers would assume that Mi-Ja is extremely thankful for the care and teaching.  However, her words could also mean that Soon-Im wronged Mi-Ja and Mi-Ja is going to repay such wrongs.  Thus, our gauntlet is thrown.

Dae-Shil is understandably surprised that her mother had a protégé and immediately calls Soon-Im out to ask if she knows the woman named Yoon-Yi on television.  Soon-Im recognizes Mi-Ja and turns off the television before stalking back into the room.


Meanwhile, our love story is slower in the progression.  Props to the writers for not rushing it.  Seung-Hye guides a group of Korean tourists from near the Busan area, judging from their accents around the traditional streets of Seoul.  Afterwards, she stops by a convenience store to grab a quick cup of noodle lunch and wonders why the owner of the cell phone hasn’t called.  She sighs that she can’t even call the owner as there’s a password lock.

Speak of the tiger and it arrives, Do-Jin’s mother calls and Seung-Hye picks up.  Lucky for Do-Jin as Seung-Hye seems confused that Mi-Ja is asking about America, he wanders upon her at the convenience store and grabs the phone from her in the nick of time to tell his mom that it was his study buddy and reassure her that Seung-Hye is not his girlfriend or even his type.  Tiger mom calls Do-Jin’s friend to confirm that he hasn’t heard about Do-Jin getting a girlfriend.  Oh dear, not the easiest family to marry into here…

Do-Jin refuses to hear Seung-Hye’s explanation about not stealing the phone, as his opinion is made up from the unfortunate exchange of Seung-Hye telling Seung-Ah that she’s been scammed…Except, of course, he thinks she was talking to him. Do-Jin is about to take Seung-Hye to the police when he has to move on due to his friend being antsy that they may run into his mother.


Feeling frustrated Seung-Hye stops by her father’s shop to grab a cup of coffee.  Like a father duck, Dae-Ho nags that Seung-Hye should enjoy her weekends instead of working all the time as Seung-Hye wanders around his shop.


Seung-Hye responds that she is enjoying her time relaxing with her father and asks about the box that Mi-Ja had bought.  It turns out that it was one of Dae-Ho’s favorite boxes and his silence as to the owner informs Seung-Hye that her father was not satisfied by the buyer.  She gently childs him not to sell such precious possessions, if he’s going to be affected by it and Dae-Ho replies that he would rather feel unsatisfied by the buyers of his products than have his daughter suffer.  Sweet father/daughter pairing established!

Seung-Hye smiles and asks her father to keep her secret as she takes out coffee from one of the boxes and sighs contentedly that coffee melts away all of her day’s stress.  Notably, Dae-Ho watches silently with a proud smile.


Back at the house, Soon-Im staves off her daughter-in-law (Han Dong-Sook) from finding out about Mi-Ja, which Dae-Shil brings up, by ordering that Dong-Sook prepare dinner.  It’s interesting that while the family observes the traditional daughter-in-law (DIL) and mother-in-law (MIL) dynamic, Dong-Sook doesn’t live in fear of Soon-Im.  Soon-Im can order that Dong-Sook bring her water, tea, or prepare dinner.  However, Dong-Sook can respond that Soon-Im has both water and tea, and even ask directly if Soon-Im just wants to kick her out of the room. Dong-Sook complies when Soon-Im confirms. This was surprising as Soon-Im seems to opposed to change in every other aspect of her life except for her relationship with her DIL does not confirm completely with the strictest traditional sense of the MIL/DIL relationship, in which a DIL does not dare question her MIL.

After Dong-Sook leaves, Soon-Im tells Dae-Shil to keep Mi-Ja a secret.


Meanwhile, we find out that Dong-Sook is a naïve woman herself as she ponders why Soon-Im would want to keep a secret from her, only to decide that it’s because Soon-Im has a protégé and didn’t want to hurt her feelings.  As Dong-Sook thinks about this out loud to her sister, she also mentions how Soon-Im had tried to train Dong-Sook, but Dong-Sook could not handle the training and gave up.


At night, Dong-Sook mentions the woman who declared that she was Soon-Im’s protégé to Dae-Ho who also doesn’t remember a protégé.  He ends up asking Soon-Im about it and she denies it.


In contrast to our unassuming collateral damage Dong-Sook, Mi-Ja looks over the housing contract for either Dae-Ho’s store or Soon-Im’s house.  She tells her secretary to double the deposit and declares that she’s going to take over Soon-Im’s throne.


At the same time, Do-Jin makes his own declaration to his friend that he’s going to take over the management of the restaurant chain making his friend moan that this decision will kill Do-Jin’s mom…


Returning back to Seung-Ah, she throws quite the number of purses onto her bed before realizing that her sister must have took the latest buy to return it.  She runs out and asks her brother (who we find is in law school, fully paid by his grandmother) to call Seung-Hye to return the purse or Seung-Ah will report it to the police as theft!

Seung-Jae tells Seung-Ah that he will not do so as he cannot do so; there’s an exception to crimes if the crime was committed by a family member who lives with you…and he knows that Seung-Ah must have used their mother’s credit card without permission.  Seung-Ah gets off the bus in a huff, leaving our pretty one dimensional Seung-Jae on the bus.


As expected, Seung-Hye tries to return the purse but she gets turned away as there’s a slight scratch.  Time to sell it on Korea’s “ji-ku” system?! (Note: Korea has a blooming new ebay-like system where you can buy directly from each other…I’m sure that Seung-Hye can sell the bag for a slight discount and only have to pay for the shortfall…)


First, in exploring the inevitable pairing between Seung-Hye and Do-Jin, I wonder if Do-Jin is Dae-Ho’s son…It would be quite the makjang scandal and would only work if Seung-Hye was the adopted daughter.  That way, she wouldn’t be blood related.  The fun part about guessing is that it’s unclear.  It could also be that Seung-Hye is Mi-Ja’s daughter and was adopted by Dae-Ho and Dong-Sook…In which case, Do-Jin would also have to be adopted by Mi-Ja and he’s the one who will “throw away his family for love,” or nullify his adoption so that he could end up with Seung-Hye.  This would explain Dae-Ho’s particular love of Seung-Hye and Soon-Im’s curtness.  Either way this looks like a juicy future conflict and I hope the writers play it out well.

For now, the plot and conversations are well written.  I like the contrast between Soon-Im’s otherwise traditionalist life with her acceptance of Dong-Sook’s unthreatening crossing of the traditional borders.  I wonder if she’s doing this because she feels apologetic that Dong-Sook does not know about Dae-Ho’s first love…maybe only love?  Definitely looking forward to the theme of the interaction between traditionalism and modern elements both in business and the family’s inner lives as well.

No characters or particular pairings really outshines any other at this point.  The second episode really just continues to introduce our main families and starts to slowly set the stage for the rest of the drama.  For now, I’m still on-board, but not ready to rave about it.  It just feels like a pleasant ride.

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