We get more pieces of the puzzle as we delve further into our leads’ lives this hour. Our withdrawn protagonist struggles to cope with multiple losses, her grief leading her to make some questionable decisions that baffle her family. But she’s not the only one dealing with grief. Her new bus buddy is still grappling with his friend’s death and questioning whether he’s doing this whole life thing right.
EPISODE 2: “A country of rage”
While Min-ja rummages through Bu-jung’s purse for the pieces of the police summons (seriously?), Kang-jae talks to his father in voiceover. He’s starting to wonder if he’d be the same person were his father alive.
Min-ja finds the Hermes handkerchief in Bu-jung’s bag and scoffs at how lavishly Bu-jung spends for being supposedly poor. As Kang-jae tells his father that he’s a mess, Min-ja finds the piece she’s looking for and takes a picture of the taped-together summons. She sneaks out of the house while her son and daughter-in-law are asleep.
Meanwhile, Kang-jae and Ddak-yi say their final goodbyes to Jung-woo. Ddak-yi does all the talking, as usual. Kang-jae slips a folded 50,000 won bill (≈$50) in Jung-woo’s pocket and tells him not to forget to pay him back.
As Jung-woo’s body is prepped for cremation, Kang-jae thinks back to overhearing Bu-jung crying to her father that she hasn’t made anything of herself. “Father, I haven’t made anything of myself,” Kang-jae says. He too fears he’ll never become anything. Kang-jae and Ddak-yi spread Jung-woo’s ashes by a tree in the woods.
At the supermarket, Jung-soo slips out to call Bu-jung. What happened yesterday? She cried herself to sleep without saying a word. He chides her for not apologizing or talking things out with his mom. Bu-jung scoffs at his wanting her to be polite given that Min-ja seriously overstepped her bounds.
Jung-soo sighs and thinks she’s overreacting but drops it. He tells her to go to work. “Don’t get fired from your laid-back job.” She yells at him for his dismissiveness and hangs up.
Noticing Jung-soo’s long expression and all the sighing, his coworker JOON-HYUK (Kang Hyung-sook) asks if everything is okay. Jung-soo didn’t even get to tell Bu-jung that he’ll be late tonight which is why he called. He can’t talk to her these days since she’s so “high and mighty.”
The guys decide it’s possible Bu-jung could be going through menopause (because naturally her emotions couldn’t be a valid response to Jung-soo’s insensitivity). When Joon-hyuk says he’ll never marry since it’s inconvenient and means losing his own identity, Jung-soo wonders why he’s never thought of that before.
Jung-soo knows he needs to call Bu-jung again since he’ll be out really late at the reunion, but he’s scared. Joon-hyuk advises him to lead with a vague apology and then promise to be home by midnight. He can text Bu-jung excuses to appease her once it’s past midnight.When Joon-hyuk says women most care about emotional time spent, Jung-soo marvels at his wisdom and follows his advice.
At home, Bu-jung washes the expensive handkerchief by hand. We flash back to Bu-jung grabbing Kang-jae’s sleeve to stop him from leaving the bus. They stare at each other as the doors open, and he misses his stop. She lets go of his sleeve, neither of them speaking.
Kang-jae sits down in the seat in front of Bu-jung, but then hops back to sit beside her. “Would you feel better if I get off at the next stop?” he asks. He’s not sure what to do since he can’t just keep staying on the bus for her, but it feels like he needs her permission to leave.
Bu-jung hasn’t said a word, but he keeps talking anyway. Kang-jae understands the need to lean on someone when you’re sad, so she doesn’t need to feel embarrassed. “… so can I get off at the next stop?” he asks her. Bu-jung gives the barest of nods.
Once that’s all settled, Kang-jae pulls out his phone. Bu-jung watches him like photos of pretty girls on Instagram. He feels her eyes on him and offers to give her his number if she has more to say – these days, exchanging numbers is no big deal.
He tries to figure out what app she likes to use or if she’s more of a texter, but she doesn’t respond. He looks over at her and guesses KakaoTalk (a popular messaging app). She asks what that’s supposed to mean. Why did he guess that after scrutinizing her? Do her clothes say she’s a KakaoTalk person?
Kang-jae is a little baffled by her defensiveness and says he just asked because it’s a popular app. When Bu-jung offers to pay for the handkerchief, he accuses her of being cold since he already said he’d give it to her. “You’re right, I do use Kakao,” she snaps. Pfft.
She pulls out a 50,000 won bill and asks if he has change. Kang-jae remarks that the hankerchief costs about $350, so he’ll just take that whole bill. Ha.
He’s not sure if it’s because of the day or because she’s sadder than he is, but his heart is “leaping and jolting.” It made him want to be nice. Bu-jung can consider the handkerchief his kindness, and he’ll consider the money as hers. With that, he exits the bus.
On the way back from spreading Jung-woo’s ashes, Ddak-yi asks Kang-jae what was with the money he put in Jung-woo’s pocket. Kang-jae just grins but doesn’t give a straight answer when Ddak-yi guesses there’s a story behind it.
Ddak-yi got Jung-woo’s sister’s address from the police and gives it to Kang-jae. He also hands him a folded paper. Kang-jae asks what it is and tosses it in surprise when Ddak-yi says it’s a bit of Jung-woo’s ashes. HA.
Since Ddak-yi has to pull an all-nighter, he asks Kang-jae to take the ashes to Jung-woo’s sister. They’ll have to get the funeral expenses from her anyway. Kang-jae is surprised by how calculative Ddak-yi is being, but Ddak-yi jokes he was just trying to think like Kang-jae.
Bu-jung goes to the police station and is lectured about the slippery slope of hate comments and how it can lead to blackmail. She blinks back tears as the officer reads aloud her hate comments.
She’s so distracted when she leaves that she’s almost run over by a car. In voiceover, we hear one of her hate comments. Bu-jung accuses Ah-ran of being two-faced and asks if she and Writer Heo are still “doing that” in secret.
Elsewhere, Chang-sook meets with Min-ja who shows him the summons. She even heard from a prosecutor friend that Bu-jung could go to jail for her crime. Min-ja laments that the one piece of the summons she couldn’t find is the one with the accuser’s name.
Chang-sook argues Bu-jung wouldn’t do such a thing without being provoked. Min-ja points out that Bu-jung does sometimes scream to herself and was even treated last year. Chang-sook gets worked up (in his rather calm way) and tells her off for her blasé mention of last year. Bu-jung lost her child.
Min-ja straight up blames Bu-jung for miscarrying since she was “too busy with work.” Ugh. Chang-sook reiterates that there’s no way Bu-jung would write those comments unless she was provoked.
Meanwhile, Kang-jae goes to visit his mom MI-SUN (Kang Ji-eun) who comes flying out of the house when she sees him outside. Her partner CHANG-KYU (Lee Seo-hwan) chases after her, screaming about how she bit him.
Kang-jae looks used to their fighting. He separates them like children and leads them inside. Chang-kyu starts talking about his trauma from being bitten by a pig (They bite?!) when he was four. He and Mi-sun start fighting again but go silent when Kang-jae asks for his payment.
Mi-sun insists she doesn’t have any money to give. Kang-jae asks if she loves him “because love is money.” When she asks if she can pay next month, he agrees but says he’s charging interest.
She compliments his snazzy suit and asks if he’s coming next week for his birthday. He’d completely forgotten and asks how old he’s turning. Ha. After being reminded he’s turning 27, he asks what his mom was doing at his age.
Mi-sun recalls that his dad was alive then and Kang-jae was starting elementary school. He notes that she was an adult, then. Mi-sun looks disappointed when Kang-jae says he may or may not come for his birthday.
Kang-jae again talks to his father, asking what he should do. Somehow, he’s already turning 27. He sends a text to Ddak-yi suggesting they go collect the funeral fee together.
At the same age his mother was sending him off to school, he’s just wondering what money means. Somewhere along the way, he started equating love with how much someone spends on him.
After Bu-jung finishes a job, she gets an alert that Ah-ran is having a book signing. While her father walks down the street in a daze, Kang-jae says that his beloved father would surely have spent all his money on him.
Chang-sook sits on the street and closes his eyes. He opens them to find a dollar beside him from someone assuming he’s homeless.
Kang-jae wonders if he’s completely screwed up for equating love with money. Has he failed as a human? Despite his worries, he still doesn’t want to give anything up. Kang-jae enters a host club called Akira and heads to the back room to find his ex-colleague JONG-HOON (Ryu Ji-hoon).
Bu-jung waits in line to have her book singed by AH-RAN (Park Ji-young) who freezes when she spots her. This seems like it’ll end in disaster. Ah-ran, now jittery, struggles to maintain her composure while greeting fans.
Then, it’s Bu-jung’s turn. Ah-ran nervously sends someone to fetch someone named Jin-ah. Bu-jung places the book on the table for Ah-ran to sign and asks how she’s been. Ah-ran asks why she’s doing this. Bu-jung says the officer at the police station said Ah-ran wanted to meet.
Ah-ran asks if Bu-jung is there to cut a deal and berates Bu-jung for not understanding her situation as always. If she’s not going to beg for forgiveness, she should leave.
“Why? Are you going to hit me like last time if I don’t?” Jin-ah turns out to be a former colleague of Bu-jung’s who greets her as sunbae. Bu-jung says she’s been meaning to stop by to see everyone, but she’s been busy. Jin-ah looks at her with pity and tries to politely get her to leave.
Bu-jung is on the verge of tears and turns to address Ah-ran. She read the book and noticed that Ah-ran didn’t change a word of what Bu-jung wrote. Bu-jung asks her to honor her promise and stop making her resort to online comments. She takes her signed book and leaves.
We flash back to a planning meeting for Ah-ran’s book. In the middle of the meeting, Ah-ran stormed in and smacked Bu-jung in the face so hard she fell to the floor.
Now, Bu-jung is dismayed to find Ah-ran doing so well after publishing that trashy book. “But if this gets out, who do you think will suffer more damage?” She tosses the book in the trash with the thought that Ah-ran isn’t the only one who can sue.
Kang-jae cleans out Jung-woo’s locker at Akira. There are multiple pictures of Jung-woo, Kang-jae, Jong-hoon, and a fourth man together. Jong-hoon remarks on how long it’s been since Kang-jae has been back.
When he suggests Kang-jae work a room before he leaves, Kang-jae reminds him he’s retired. His father died young of liver cancer, and he doesn’t want to follow in his footsteps.
Conversation turns to Jung-woo. Jong-hoon sighs that he always talked about wanting to die and finally got his wish. Kang-jae is evasive when Jong-hoon asks how much he lent Jung-woo and claims he doesn’t remember.
Jong-hoon calls Jung-woo greedy for money – he was never good at tailing people but took the job for the cash. Jong-hoon offers the unfinished job to Kang-jae since he knows he has the skill. All he needs to do is get dirt on a housewife.
Kang-jae grows angry and berates Jong-hoon for being so callous and critical about Jung-woo. He just finished holding his funeral. Jong-hoon says he’s sad and all, but he’s also a victim. “Should I just kill myself?”
Kang-jae throws him a withering look and says he’s leaving. Jong-hoon guesses Kang-jae came because he’s lonely and says this is where he belongs. He again entreats him to consider the job offer.
At the reunion, Jung-soo is uncomfortable when his first love KYUNG-EUN (Kim Hyo-jin) shows up unexpectedly. He sits at the opposite end of the table, trying to avoid her.
Elsewhere, Min-ja stops by the pharmacy that Ddak-yi’s sister Soon-kyu runs. I’m assuming Min-ja is the landlady since Soon-kyu asks about rent. Min-ja sings Soon-kyu’s praises and laments that she didn’t meet her son when she tried to set them up 10 years ago.
Bu-jung goes to see her father who isn’t feeling well. She assumes he ate something bad and wants to take him to the hospital, but he insists he’s fine. Judging from the fact that he ate out, she guesses he met someone, but Chang-sook won’t say who.
Her face stills when he says that he called all his acquaintances but couldn’t find any connections within the police force. Chang-sook blames himself for not being a good enough father and making her suffer. Bu-jung asks if Jung-soo told him about the summons, but her father denies it.
Chang-sook can’t imagine her being malicious enough to write hate comments and asks if it was a misunderstanding. Through tears, she comforts him by saying it was.
He wants to go with her to the police station, but she says she no longer needs to go. Bu-jung tells him someone she worked with on a book held a grudge against her, but the misunderstanding has now been resolved. Chang-sook is elated to hear it’s over.
Bu-jung calls Jung-soo who insists he didn’t tell her father. She asks if it was his mother then since no one else knows. Bu-jung plans to spend the night at her dad’s and tells Jung-soo not to wait up.
Kyung-eun overhears the conversation and remarks it sounded serious. Jung-soo is reticent despite Kyung-eun’s efforts to chat. Had he known she’d be here, he wouldn’t have come. Kyung-eun says she wanted to know how he was faring after “that time.”
Jung-soo doesn’t get why she’d worry about that, but she says she still thinks of him first when she’s having a hard time. Jung-soo calls her sickening and sighs when she says she’s at least more honest than he is.
Kyung-eun shares that her husband is dying and has been in a care facility for a year. “I did my best, but I got punished in the end.” Meanwhile, Bu-jung gets a text from Ah-ran asking to talk.
While making ramyeon, Kang-jae talks to Ddak-yi on the phone and warns him to be careful of Min-jung since it seems Ddak-yi is crushing on her. Kang-jae calls her the female version of him – she’ll do anything to survive.
After some deliberation, Bu-jung calls Ah-ran who asks what Bu-jung wants from her. How long will she keep writing those comments that they have to delete? When Bu-jung asks if Writer Heo is helping her, Ah-ran gets angry.
As Kang-jae walks down the hallway, he hears Bu-jung on the phone screaming in the stairwell. He opens the door and follows the shouts. Bu-jung sits on a stair facing away from him.
She admits to Ah-ran she’s not in her right mind. How could she be when she’s in and out of the police station and making her father sick with worry? When Bu-jung promises to go public with everything she knows, Ah-ran asks if she has a death wish.
Bu-jung yells that she’s so embarrassed she really does want to die. “Because of you, I lost my job, my child, and myself.” Ah-ran gives a flippant apology as if that’ll help at this point. Bu-jung warns that she has the medical report from after Ah-ran hit her and other private info she intends to share.
Kang-jae hides around the corner and listens to Bu-jung cry after she hangs up. She runs upstairs, leaving her phone in the stairwell. Kang-jae sees it light up with a call from Ah-ran.
He takes her belongings she left behind up to the roof where he finds Bu-jung leaning over the railing. “Why do you have to die?” Kang-jae asks. Bu-jung turns to face him, her phone still ringing in his hand. “Just don’t pick up.”
In the wake of Jung-woo’s suicide, I imagine Kang-jae is even more motivated to help Bu-jung now. Not only can he relate to her sadness, but helping her gives him a chance to do what he couldn’t for Jung-woo. Kang-jae and Bu-jung have barely had any screentime together so far, but their bus conversation was entertaining. It was sweet that he wouldn’t leave until he got a clear okay from her. Kang-jae went over and above to reach out to her, even though she was prickly whenever she even bothered responding to him. The whole Kakao fight cracked me up. She was being ridiculous, but it’s easy to get sensitive over something inane when you’re already upset. I’m looking forward to seeing them interact more as we go. They both really need someone who understands without judgment. I like that we got more insight into Kang-jae with the voiceover this episode, especially the bit about him equating love with money. In his line of work, how much someone is willing to spend on you does indicate how much they like you and indirectly signals your worth. And before that, it seems like he grew up poor without anyone to spend money on him, so it’s an understandable association.
Kang-jae doesn’t seem to have a bad relationship with his mother, but I’m not sure how dependable she is. Bu-jung, at least, has Chang-sook who is caring and reliable from what we’ve seen. Everyone besides him is so dismissive of Bu-jung, although Min-ja is probably the worst. It’d be one thing if she were interfering out of true concern, but it’s obvious she doesn’t like Bu-jung and believes her son deserves better. She almost seems to enjoy Bu-jung’s downfall, like it proves her right about her no-good daughter-in-law. I was already over her judgmental attitude and disrespect, but she completely lost me when she outright blamed Bu-jung for the miscarriage.
Jung-soo’s dismissal of Bu-jung doesn’t feel as malicious as his mother’s, but that doesn’t make it less harmful. He made that comment about her easy job, and then he treats her emotions like they’re invalid because he doesn’t understand them. I’m not sure if she shuts him out because he treats her dismissively or if his dismissiveness is a response to her shutting him out. Either way, they’re obviously distant from each other at this point and struggle to communicate. And I’m guessing the re-entry of Kyung-eun spells more trouble. She came off so pushy and disrespectful. What happened between her and Jung-soo? He was almost angry to see her and tried so hard to avoid her. An affair would be the easy answer, but there might be more to it.
Communication is an issue for most of these characters it would seem. Bu-jung appears to have kept everything that happened with Ah-ran from her family. Chang-sook is still under the impression she’s working as a writer; she must not have told him for fear of worrying or disappointing him. Given that Min-ja and Jung-soo don’t respect her much, it makes sense that she didn’t tell them she was fired. Now that we know Ah-ran is responsible for Bu-jung losing her job and her baby, her hatred makes sense. I wonder what it is that made Ah-ran so angry she assaulted Bu-jung that day. Ah-ran is frightened of Bu-jung now which indicates Bu-jung knows something serious enough to potentially destroy Ah-ran’s career. Maybe Bu-jung uncovered some secrets while working on the book which led to the assault.
Speaking of secrets, I can’t help but wonder if Bu-jung is Jung-woo’s sister. When Ddak-yi and Kang-jae discussed Jung-woo’s family last episode, they explicitly said he didn’t have a mom but did have a father and older sister. The family situation fits, so it’s possible he cut off contact with them for some reason which is why there’s no mention of him from Chang-sook or Bu-jung. It could also be a red herring, though, and there’s no relation between them. Whatever the case, Jung-woo’s presence looms large, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s connected to our story in a way that goes beyond just being Kang-jae’s friend.