We’ve seen that Myeong-Soo and Soo-Jin trust each other deeply when the times are tough. But as things look better for the movie in episodes 7 and 8, it’s hard for our central couple to maintain that closeness. Why is trust harder when things are going well?
The “Girlfriend Buffalo” movie takes a back seat in these episodes, which focus on the potential relationship between our leads. The exes can’t get in the way any more—the only people who can stop this relationship are Myeong-Soo and Soo-Jin themselves. And they might be their own worst enemies. This couple are so cute together—and also so frustrating. They still haven’t learned how to talk to each other.
When Ex-Girlfriend Club starts this week, Hwa-Young’s plan to push Director Jo and Soo-Jin together has failed because of Ra-Ra’s text to Myeong-Soo (above). Director Jo and Myeong-Soo try to shield Soo-Jin from the awkwardness. The scene is plenty awkward anyway. Soo-Jin keeps her dignity, though. She shakes off Myeong-Soo and the director to head back to Seoul on her own.
Later, she threatens the exes by saying if they keep making trouble, she’ll date Myeong-Soo for real. Myeong-Soo teases her about it as they walk home. He’s trying to get her to carry through on dating him (below).
But the relationship between Soo-Jin and the exes in the opening sequence reminds us how insecure Soo-Jin is. She’s great at making movies, but she doesn’t seem to think of herself as a romantic woman. She can’t believe the exes want her to seduce the director to work on the movie. They aren’t taking her seriously, she says. Not taking her heart seriously, or her abilities as a producer.
(And she’s right that they don’t understand her. But she misses what is obvious to the exes: that Director Jo and Myeong-Soo find her attractive.)
Hwa-Young isn’t giving up on Director Jo, though. She pulls off a classic K-drama maneuver: asking Myeong-Soo to bow out of the production to help “our poor Soo-Jin.” When Myeong-Soo leaves the production so Director Jo will return, it looks momentarily like noble idiocy.
But Myeong-Soo isn’t a typical K-drama lead. He agrees to Director Jo’s demands to keep away from the office, but he doesn’t plan on seeing less of Soo-Jin. Myeong-Soo tells Soo-Jin that he’s finished the script and it’s time for him to work on other writing projects. They can still spend time together, though, he says. As he takes his stuff away from the office, he gives Soo-Jin a pair of “couple shoes” that he bought for their weekend workshop. Looks promising!
In some relationships, it wouldn’t be a big deal that Myeong-Soo’s not visiting the office any more. But it turns out that Soo-Jin isn’t good at taking time off. When they meet for coffee, her phone keeps ringing with business. And Myeong-Soo isn’t any better at ignoring the phone than Soo-Jin. He encourages her to answer. They’re sitting in a beautiful garden (below)—did anyone else want to fly to Seoul right now to visit this cafe? But Soo-Jin’s thoughts are far away.
Myeong-Soo grows more and more frustrated when Soo-Jin doesn’t answer his texts. She’s busy with work when she does talk to him. So it’s not surprising to learn that something similar happened to their relationship three years ago.
Just as I sometimes want to yell at Myeong-Soo for ignoring Soo-Jin’s feelings, in episode 7 I want to yell at Soo-Jin. Can’t she see how insecure Myeong-Soo feels when she brushes him off?
I suspect Soo-Jin knows she’s distancing Myeong-Soo, but she doesn’t know how to act differently. She fought so hard to make this movie happen. And she’s good at throwing herself into a project. She’s not good at relationships.
Myeong-Soo may have similar doubts. He isn’t sure how much attention he can ask for. And he’s so good at being agreeable that he doesn’t want to get in the way of Soo-Jin’s work, even if he wants more of her time.
When Myeong-Soo finds Soo-Jin and Director Jo eating at Ji-Ah’s cafe after a long day and night of work, he looks frustrated and Soo-Jin looks guilty (above). (And Director Jo looks as cool as always.) It’s an echo of the scene three years ago, when Myeong-Soo found Soo-Jin and her colleagues partying and decided not to talk to her.
The story of three years ago didn’t make sense when Myeong-Soo first described it. Why was he so afraid to talk to her? But it makes more sense now. We can imagine it hurt him to find her looking so happy, when he was having a hard time and missing her. We can imagine he didn’t want to share her with a crowd.
It’s possible she wasn’t getting his phone calls that night simply because her phone was constantly ringing for work. That night was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Myeong-Soo had probably felt he was losing touch with Soo-Jin ever since she started the filming in Chungmuro.
Thank goodness Soo-Jin follows Myeong-Soo outside and confronts him. Finally he’s angry enough to explain his feelings (above). This is what it was like three years ago, he says. I waited for you, I smiled. You think we dated? I don’t think so, because it ended at this point last time too. We didn’t get as far as dating.
It’s pretty clear now that Myeong-Soo did want to date Soo-Jin three years ago. Perhaps he thought it was clear to Soo-Jin too, so he was hurt when Soo-Jin appeared to abandon him for work. But it also seems like he didn’t tell her how frustrating it was for him. Instead, he gave up on her and they drifted apart.
When they meet again in the present, Myeong-Soo’s still reluctant to explain himself, which makes some sense—why bring up a relationship that didn’t happen? But even though this makes sense—this is what happens in real life—it’s sad.
Because Myeong-Soo is at the end of his “Girlfriend Buffalo” project, he goes walkabout for a few days (above). He’s considering writing a comic based on the story of him and Soo-Jin. While he’s away, Soo-Jin considers sending him a text. She writes, “I, too, li—” before she stops and erases the message.
Why does she erase? She can’t be afraid Myeong-Soo will reject her, right? But maybe she does fear rejection, even though it isn’t rational. She feels keenly that Myeong-Soo rejected her three years ago—even though he feels just as strongly that she rejected him.
I can also cut Soo-Jin a little slack because she’s not used to thinking of herself as the heroine of a romance. Myeong-Soo’s beauty-obsessed ex-girlfriends are always telling Soo-Jin she isn’t attractive. And Soo-Jin carries herself like a woman who’s used to hearing these insults, perhaps because she doesn’t dress up and focus on her appearance. Soo-Jin appears to ignore others’ opinions, but the message that she isn’t pretty has probably worked its way into her thinking.
In a cute interaction with a few passing boys, Myeong-Soo explains his drawing (above). If he’s going to draw a comic about him and Soo-Jin, he’ll portray Soo-Jin as a bear. It’s an affectionate choice of animal that suggests Soo-Jin is a bit stupid, but in a way that makes her honest and trustworthy. A bear is the opposite of a cat or a fox—a bear doesn’t deceive or manipulate others, whereas a cat or fox may be dangerously clever.
Of course, a bear also isn’t a particularly sexy animal, especially compared to a cat or a fox. “Kum” (bear) is one of those terms of endearment with a teasing, ironic tone. It’s perfect for Myeong-Soo to call Soo-Jin. But it also fits how Soo-Jin thinks about herself. She isn’t glamorous or foxy.
Although Soo-Jin chickens out and doesn’t send Myeong-Soo a text, she does make an excuse to visit his place the evening he comes back to Seoul. At the beginning of episode 8, they meet. Soo-Jin doesn’t know what to say, but Myeong-Soo lays his cards on the table (below).
Let’s not be a fake couple, he says. Let’s be a real couple.
It’s simultaneously funny and horrifying that the exes, Director Jo, and Myeong-Soo’s office-mate overhear this conversation. They’re hiding in the dark to surprise Myeong-Soo with a party.
The exes are impossible to embarrass, as always. They don’t even apologize, while our hero and heroine are dying of embarrassment. The director isn’t much better. He wants to hear Soo-Jin’s answer to Myeong-Soo. Come on!
Soo-Jin looks horrified when Myeong-Soo confesses. She looks even more horrified that anyone wants her to answer and she insists they’re just friends. But when their uninvited guests leave, she tells Myeong-Soo she didn’t want to talk about her feelings in front of other people.
He tries to get her to say what she’s really thinking. She acts coy, but it looks like things are moving in the right direction for Myeong-Soo.
Soo-Jin doesn’t like to make her feelings obvious, but she lets down her guard in episode 8. When she says something cute and girlish on the phone to Myeong-Soo, he’s over-the-moon. And Soo-Jin’s embarrassed to catch herself acting silly (below).
I love watching Myeong-Soo and Soo-Jin in this episode as they cautiously navigate closer. Soo-Jin avoids saying how she feels about Myeong-Soo, even when Director Jo asks her. She should consider just telling the director the truth, since he’s interested in her. But she tries hard not to admit anything directly.
Myeong-Soo’s learned a little in the past three years, though. He asks Soo-Jin directly what she thinks of him. Do I have to say something like that out loud? Soo-Jin asks.
Myeong-Soo doesn’t let her off. “I like you,” she admits. She adds, though, that she’s cautious because she was hurt three years ago. She’s asks Myeong-Soo to be patient.
These two are so close to each other in some ways, so far apart in others. During this conversation, they’re almost mirror images of each other, except that Soo-Jin looks away at the sky while Myeong-Soo stares at her (above).
But Soo-Jin is moving towards Myeong-Soo, even if she’s moving slowly. When she’s scouting locations, Myeong-Soo accidentally-on-purpose runs into her and they spend the afternoon together (below). By coincidence, they’re both wearing their “couple shoes.” (Bonus points to Myeong-Soo for good taste. Of all the couple gewgaws in K-dramas, these sneakers might be the most tasteful, restrained example ever.)
When Soo-Jin sees the photos Myeong-Soo took of her, she wants to erase them. She’s particularly bothered by one image that shows her looking sexy and mysterious. Her reaction gives us another hint that she’s uncomfortable to show her private side to others.
Soo-Jin is so outgoing when it comes to her career. Remember her zany attempt to recruit a famous actress in the middle of a Joseon-era ninja battle? But she’s actually introverted when it comes to other parts of her life. The contrast makes her a plausibly complex character. It also explains why the people around her—including Myeong-Soo—don’t realize she has these insecurities.
Instead, Myeong-Soo thinks she blew him off deliberately three years ago. And the exes think Soo-Jin is a clever player, a woman who is manipulating Myeong-Soo and Director Jo by feigning indifference.
Soo-Jin’s biggest blind spot is that she doesn’t realize how others see her. She might have doubts that she can be a tough professional and an attractive woman at the same time, but others don’t necessarily share her doubts.
In episode 8, Soo-Jin and Myeong-Soo are having fun at last. They’ve survived the interference of the director and the exes. The plot is bound to get more complicated soon. But not before Myeong-Soo sneaks in a kiss to Soo-Jin’s cheek (below). Soo-Jin looks shocked. Not till she gets home does she let loose a few “squees.”
We end episode 8 with Soo-Jin worrying about a video message from Ji-Ah she found on Myeong-Soo’s camera memory card. It’s Ji-Ah’s parting message to Myeong-Soo before her marriage. Ji-Ah, in tears, says she truly loves Myeong-Soo, not her husband. It’s the most honest we’ve ever seen Ji-Ah—and Myeong-Soo probably never even saw this message.
The message rattles Soo-Jin. Why? The obvious reason is she’s worried Myeong-Soo still has feelings for Ji-Ah. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t erase the message.
I’d like to think Soo-Jin’s smarter than that. But if she really is irrationally doubting Myeong-Soo, I think it’s because she’s so afraid of getting her heart broken. The rational part of her may know Ji-Ah and Myeong-Soo are ancient history. But she’s sensitive almost to the point of paranoia. When she meets Myeong-Soo at Ji-Ah’s restaurant for dinner later, you can see she’s half expecting to discover Ji-Ah and Myeong-Soo are having an affair.
Ironically, Myeong-Soo thinks Soo-Jin wants to meet at MSG so she can show off that she won Myeong-Soo’s heart. And before Soo-Jin can do anything paranoid, Myeong-Soo gets a minor injury in a kitchen fire (thanks to Ji-Ah’s lack of competence to run a restaurant). We end the episode with Soo-Jin in a hospital waiting room.
Soo-Jin’s fear that Ji-Ah will take Myeong-Soo away might not be such a bad thing—if it makes Soo-Jin realize she cares enough about Myeong-Soo to fight for him. Soo-Jin has been careful to expose her emotions as little as possible so far. But Myeong-Soo needs to know how she feels. Soo-Jin also needs to come clean so that she can start letting go of her fears of rejection.
I can foresee a few interesting conflicts on the horizon. For one, if Soo-Jin is so cautious about sharing her private life, what will she think of Myeong-Soo writing about her? And portraying her as a bear, at that?
Also, I wonder what Soo-Jin’s sister will say about Soo-Jin and Myeong-Soo dating. She clearly disapproves of him, though she’s confused about what he looks like.
And will this movie really get made? I want to see a lot of Soo-Jin and Myeong-Soo, but I’m also curious about the film. Who will get cast to play Myeong-Soo? Or the girlfriends? And, perhaps most importantly, who will the final movie choose to focus on? Which girlfriend is the story really about? ♥