Ex-Girlfriend Club Episodes 9 & 10: “I Should Know, Since I Dated Him”

Take a few million awkward moments, breed them to produce a thriving population of pure-bred awkward moments, then gather them together to form a massive super-organism of the worst moments ever, and you have the awkward moments in episodes 9 and 10 of Ex-Girlfriend Club.

Luckily, the cute moments are also thriving and healthy in these episodes. And when Soo-Jin and Myeong-Soo are cute, they are so very, very cute.

Because of tvN’s decision to shorten Ex-Girlfriend Club by four episodes, last week’s episodes essentially served as the entire second act of the series. Or so it seems, because episodes 9 and 10 feel like they’re taking us straight towards the climax and denouement of the series. This is okay under the circumstances. It looks like the final four episodes won’t change the story into something else or forget to provide resolution—common risks of cutting a series short.

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The Awkward

Let us now praise awkward moments.

Should we be surprised that all of the exes show up at the hospital when Myeong-Soo burns his hand? We’ve seen how these ladies operate, so the lack of an explanation doesn’t matter. We know that Ji Ah wouldn’t leave Myeong-Soo alone with Soo-Jin. And we know that, of course, Hwa Yeong wouldn’t leave Ji Ah alone with Myeong-Soo. And Ra-Ra doesn’t want to be left out.

In the weird world of Ex-Girlfriend Club, it makes perfect sense that Myeong-Soo is at the hospital with all four women. It makes sense they start arguing when the nurse asks who’s the patient’s guardian. Even Ra-Ra gets into the act, though I suspect simply because she thinks it’s funny.

Soo-Jin doesn’t assert herself, as she might have back when she was just Myeong-Soo’s friend. Myeong-Soo appears very uncomfortable—always the guy who wants to please everyone—but asks Soo Jin to sign for him. This would count for a cute moment, except the exes glaring at him make it awkward too.

And when Soo-Jin finds Jin-Ah and Myeong-Soo having a heart-to-heart, she jumps to some awkward conclusions that make her look pretty dumb. Mercifully, this argument is over quickly and ends with a much-needed kiss (above). Whew! Finally.

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Not all the awkward moments end so well.

Hwa Yeong is really pushing her luck in episode 9. She asks Soo-Jin, Ra-Ra and Ji-Ah to be her bridesmaids. They’re all invited to her wedding photo shoot. Her fiance Young Jae and best man Jo Geun will also be there, and Young Jae invites Myeong-Soo to join in, since he’s Soo-Jin’s boyfriend, right?

Awkward.

Myeong-Soo can’t figure out how to avoid it and the girls give in to Hwa-Young’s begging. She doesn’t have any friends, she says.

Considering her insecure, perfectionist personality, I can believe it. But how sad that she has been so obsessed with career success and finding a husband that she lacks friends—and how sad that she hurries to invite her “rivals” to be her bridesmaids. She’ll do anything to avoid telling Young Jae the truth about her weak spots.

Hwa-Yeong has been causing trouble for our hero and heroine since she first appeared. Her insecurities have driven the most hare-brained schemes, including the “fake dating.” So it’s poetic justice that in episode 9, everyone continues to play their parts perfectly (above) except Hwa-Yeong herself.

If Hwa-Yeong had told her fiance earlier that she was “the lioness,” would he have been angry? Perhaps, perhaps not. But since Hwa-Yeong didn’t tell him her connection to Myeong-Soo and the movie, it’s suspicious. I can see why Young Jae is angry to find out at this late date. I also have some sympathy for Hwa-Yeong: since Young Jae thinks “the lioness” character is hilarious, it would take an act of great courage to tell him the truth. She doesn’t have a lot of that courage stuff.

Appropriately, Young Jae finds out the truth from Hwa-Yeong’s own mouth. When she hears from Ji-Ah and Ra-Ra that Soo-Jin and Myeong-Soo are dating, she can’t resist showing a little possessiveness. She congratulates Soo-Jin brightly, but adds that she’ll have difficult times too. “I should know,” she says with a hint of spite, “since I’ve dated him” (above).

She can’t blame anyone but herself when Young Jae hears her and storms out, breaking the engagement—and shutting down film production.

There’s an interesting truth under her remark. I don’t think the exes really want to get back together with Myeong-Soo, except possibly Ji-Ah. These couples broke up for reasons that still exist. Ji-Ah wants to remain rich, Hwa-Yeong wants to become rich, Ra-Ra wants to be a star. But they hang around Myeong-Soo even after love is gone, because they still feel possessive. They don’t want another woman to have what was “theirs.”

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In an earlier episode, the exes talk about whether Myeong-Soo should date someone better or worse than them. They say out loud something that most of us don’t admit to ourselves. When you’ve dated someone in the past, it’s hard not to compare yourself just a little to that new lover in the present. Did he make a mistake breaking up with me? Or did he end up okay after I broke up with him?

Hwa Young wants Myeong-Soo to end up with someone who makes him unhappy, so he’ll regret dumping her. Ra-Ra wants him to end up with a glamorous woman, so Ra-Ra can feel she lost to a worthy foe. And Ji-Ah does appear sincere when she says she wants him to be with someone who makes him happy.

The friendship between these women is weird, but it makes sense, too: they turn to each other because no one else can understand how annoying it is that Myeong-Soo seems to be choosing Soo-Jin. They don’t like each other much, but perhaps they dislike Soo-Jin a little more. Or do they just dislike the idea of Soo-Jin, the idea of losing love that was once theirs?

In episode 10 they meet for coffee (above). Someone says, “But why are we still hanging out?” It’s a great line. The women make awkward excuses for being together. The scene ends with each of them looking in a different direction. It’s still not clear whether they’re friends, because the emotions they share are negative rather than positive. Mutual irritation with Kim Soo-Jin doesn’t seem like a solid basis for a friendship.

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The Cute

But Soo-Jin and Myeong-Soo are really dating! Over the course of episode nine and ten, they tell the truth to everyone. Even the normally private Soo-Jin declares out loud to the exes and Myeong-Soo that she really likes him and that’s that. You go, girl!

The happy bits in K-dramas are usually accompanied by foreshadowing, a few ominous hints of trouble to come. These warnings are virtually necessary to structure the narrative. If the story was entirely cute moments, it wouldn’t be a story. We would get bored during the cute moments if we weren’t at least a tiny bit worried about what will happen in the next few episodes.

Myeong-Soo and Soo-Jin also feel uneasy after their first kiss. It’s unusual for a couple in a light comedy to feel this way, even if all know love can be scary. But their thoughts are turning to endings, which explains their uneasiness. The scariest thing about love is a fundamental paradox, one we don’t often acknowledge, which Julian Barnes called the “paradox about time.” He wrote

Part of you wants time to slow down: for this, you say to yourself, is the best period of your whole life. I am in love, I want to savour it, study it, lie around in languor with it; may today last forever. This is your poetical side. However, there is also your prose side, which urges time not to slow down but hurry up. How do you know this is love, your prose side whispers like a skeptical lawyer, it’s only been around for a few weeks, a few months. You won’t know it’s the real thing unless you (and she) still feel the same in, oh, a year or so at least; that’s the only way to prove you aren’t living a dragonfly mistake. Get through this bit, however much you enjoy it, as fast as possible; then you’ll be able to find out whether or not you’re really in love. (A History of the World in 10½ Chapters)

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K-dramas are fun because they depict love without the paradox, without wanting time to speed up and slow down. It’s fiction, so we willingly suspend disbelief and accept that our hero and heroine are “really in love.” We enjoy the cute stuff in the knowledge that ultimately it will all work out. We know a few more troubles will cast shadows in the concluding episodes, but when the last credits roll, a happy future awaits off screen.

Not so in real life. Myeong-Soo and Soo-Jin both worry about endings that first evening. Myeong-Soo remembers Jo Geun telling him he wouldn’t have a happy ending with Soo-Jin. “Screw happy endings,” Myeong-Soo says to himself.

Soo-Jin confesses to Myeong-Soo that she’s uneasy and asks him, “We’ll have a happy ending, right?” In a line that should become a K-drama classic, Myeong-Soo replies, “You’re my ending.”

Well played, sir, well played. If they’re uneasy, they’ll be uneasy together, right?

But her question is a familiar one at the beginning of a relationship, one we often ask ourselves in the silence of our own heads. And perhaps that fear of an ending is why we work so hard to enjoy small moments in the present, they way Soo-Jin and Myeong-Soo pause for a moment at the photo studio (above).

So much glorious cuteness! Going for a drive in Myeong-Soo’s “new” second-hand car, which doesn’t have air-conditioning or a functional passenger door. (How did my car from college end up in South Korea?) Myeong-Soo’s enthusiastic singing (above). Spending the night together watching a horror movie and snuggling (modestly, K-drama style). Holding hands at the wedding photo shoot, to the irritation of jealous Director Jo.

Myeong-Soo is wrapping up whatever unanswered questions may linger between him and the exes. When Ji-Ah confesses to him in episode 9 that she continued loving him after her marriage, he doesn’t say anything. He lets her get it off her chest, but he doesn’t offer her any hope and tells her he’s going to be with Soo-Jin. When Hwa-Yeong is hurting because of her broken engagement, he gives her good advice and encouragement, while reminding her he’s with Soo-Jin now.

And Soo-Jin is showing new sides to herself. She uncharacteristically dotes on Myeong-Soo during his “convalescence,” to the eye-rolling of Myeong-Soo’s roommate (below). She acts goofy to make Myeong-Soo laugh, as he usually does for her. And she doesn’t hesitate to tell people she’s going out with Myeong-Soo, though it’s usually unwelcome news. She even boldly visits Ji-Ah to return the photos of Ji-Ah and Myeong-Soo.

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As we saw in episode 8, the biggest challenge for this relationship is when they’re busy with work. But the end of Hwa-Yeong’s engagement spells the end of the movie, so of course cuteness ensues. Our hero and heroine are great at supporting each other when things go wrong (below).

The Obstacles

And things do go wrong, or it wouldn’t be a drama. Young Jae has not only cancelled the film production, but also intends to hang on to the rights to Myeong-Soo’s work. Young Jae also fights with Jo Geun. He intends to damage Director Jo’s career using Jo’s five-year contract with him.

Director Jo quickly figures out that he can pay a sizable fee to be free from his contract. That appears to be what he did, because he’s sleeping in the office now. He asks if Soo-Jin will join him to start a new production company, but it also seems he hasn’t given up hope of wooing her. Her company appears to have truly failed—Director Jo is now renting her office space.

With Soo-Jin unemployed, and a job offer from Director Jo, how long before she gives in? Even with Myeong-Soo asking her not to, where else should she go?

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The most frustrating thing for the exes and Soo-Jin is that “Girlfriend Buffalo” now belongs to Young Jae’s company. Myeong-Soo no longer holds the rights. Theoretically, Young Jae can prevent anyone from making the movie for many years to come.

If this seems far-fetched, it’s actually a familiar scenario in Hollywood. (I don’t know anything about copyright law in Korea.) The American movie industry is full of stories about books that take thirty years to find their way into film, while authors, producers and lawyers sell and resell the rights.

I was disappointed in Soo-Jin that she didn’t tell Myeong-Soo about the rights snafu immediately. But interestingly, when Myeong-Soo learns about it from Hwa-Young, he doesn’t get mad at Soo-Jin for holding back. He seems to know without asking that she was afraid to tell him. The good thing about their having been friends for a long time is that they already know and accept some of each other’s faults and weaknesses.

I find myself feeling bad for Hwa-Young in these episodes, even though she caused her own problems. Perhaps I feel bad for her because she caused her own problems. She’s a pitiful character: so lonely, so annoying, so hard on herself and others. Because Young Jae is making his own situation worse through pride and stubbornness, I suspect the two of them are very similar. If they have similar weaknesses, does that make them more or less likely to get together again?

The scenes with the exes, as well as the scenes with Soo-Jin’s sister and brother-in-law, provide perspective on the variety of forms romance takes. Sometimes it looks like happy, smiling people (above). But sometimes it looks like Ra-Ra crushing on Director Jo and thus taking his advice to become “a real actress.” Or it looks like Young Jae being a proud jerk, refusing to listen to Hwa-Young’s apologies.

And sometimes love looks like Soo-Jin’s brother-in-law sympathizing with his wife as she agonizes over a tiny zit. Whereas Soo-Jin and Myeong-Soo start out as old friends and become lovers, we get the impression that Soo-Jin’s sister and her husband started out as lovers and now have evolved into old friends.

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I’m sad if the movie never happens because it would immediately force our hero and heroine to figure out ways to combine work and a relationship. I wanted to see how that would play out. (Hm, if we only had four more episodes….)

But perhaps the end of “Girlfriend Buffalo” offers up new and better possibilities for them to work together. Soo-Jin is already bored and unhappy without work, but she doesn’t find it easy to drop her feelings of responsibility and head to the beach. She and Myeong-Soo might have the best life together if they find ways to collaborate on projects, as they did on “Girlfriend Buffalo.” They both need to work on artistic projects to be happy. For some artsy couples, collaboration is the way to go.

The focus in episode 10 is unclear, as Hwa-Young’s troubles (and the movies troubles) are overlapping with sweet times for our central characters. But more than ever, I enjoy spending time with these characters. That’s the real pleasure of a good slice-of-life story.

Now if only Soo-Jin could stop the blushing schoolgirl routine, which seems oddly inconsistent with her bold personality. Not that I have anything against blushing. But if she likes Myeong-Soo, she shouldn’t be afraid to give him a smooch (above).

The light tone of this show continues even as the credits roll, with a bunch of kisses from different out-takes. It’s as if the director is telling us, I know why you’re watching. You really just want more cute stuff, right?

Guilty as charged. But we have to enjoy it while we can, before the awkwardness strikes back.

Does anyone else feel sorry for Hwa-Young? And should Soo-Jin even consider working for the director?

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11 thoughts on “Ex-Girlfriend Club Episodes 9 & 10: “I Should Know, Since I Dated Him”

  1. Thank you Odessa for another uncap. In answer to your questions: yes SJ should take the job with the director. And she should state her reasons firmly but lovingly to MS. He is a gifted director and someone who can help her career. Plus he has lost a lot by being loyal to the band of misfits so he deserves her to assist him. As to feeling sorry for HY I have mixed feelings. She really did bring this on herself but I understand fear can make us do dumb things.

    I also have very mixed feelings about these episodes. I felt as if the director & writers were trying to complete the story for us viewers as originally concieved. I am not sure if this impression is well founded or not but I felt appreciative. The problem for me is tht I don’t think they have done a great job at it. Things felt rushed and poorly edited. In not sacrificing some things they have robbed time from other parts of the story. In cutting some things too short they have managed to lose their meaning.

    I think it would have taken a second to show HY and Rara (or is it Lara or Lala as I have seen elsewhere) arriving at MSG just after MS burns his hand. We know they were scheduled to arrive but that scene is the transition to them all being at the hospital. Instead we are treated to an exterior shot of MSG with nothing occurring. At least that one I could guess, but why on earth did they go back to the waiting room after they had left the hospital? There were other super short scenes that got left in – like the wedding dress shopping. I saw zero need for that in the story except I suspect it was perhaps a longer scene originally and got cut down. In fact we could have used more about the fiance earlier so we could understand him now. Perhaps that scene was originally to show how sweet and loving he could be to her but it really was not long enough to do that job. The scene with the sister and her husband could have been almost entirely axed. I love them but what exactly are they adding to the story at this point? I thought the scene with Young Jae and the director at the bar was very good. But why were we treated to a flashback in the very next scene? We did not forget in 5 seconds and his pacing conveyed all we needed to know about things being on his mind.

    But despite all that I am like you and enjoying the slice of life this show is giving us. There were some really lovely scenes as you have outlined. And the music has really been excellent. I would seriously by a CD with not only the OST but all the bgm as well. (although I might be the only one who does not like Dreamlike). I like the exes and do feel that they could have a weird sort of friendship. I don’t think it is a bond over stopping SJ from getting MS. Shared stressful events do bring people together. Plus they liked the same person so it is possible they have some other similarities. I liked the scene at the coffee shop. JA giving the keys to HY was perfect. She is being nice and giving HY a place to be alone but has to be cool and do it in such an off hand and cold way.

    I did not mind the blushing school girl thing. Having a bold personality in some situations does not preclude being shy in others. She has liked him for ages and he has rather a slew of ex girlfriends. Seems completely reasonable to me that she might not be a wee bit shy about things.

    And I loved the director! I will be so disappointed if they make him do something that feels out of character. That is my one real worry with the next two episodes. Well that and the fear I may not get to watch them for 2 weeks!

    • Hi Erin! I agree with you about the pacing. It’s like an abridged novel. We’re getting the central story, but missing a ton of other stuff. It’s awkward, but I’m not sure if it would feel any less awkward done differently. I didn’t feel the sister and brother-in-law were extraneous here, because that’s the first scene where Soo-Jin looks really, really happy about finally getting together with Myeong-Soo. But I agree about the frustrating underdevelopment of the fiance, distracting editing and unnecessary seconds lost to flashback.

      I wish we could see the original story because now we’ll never learn more about these characters. A big theme has been how past relationships influence present relationships. We’ve seen how MS went from having his heart broken by Ji-Ah, to getting some confidence back by dating crazy stalker Hwa-Young, to dating someone who is fun but not serious like Ra-Ra. Perhaps he had to date all of them to become the person who confesses plainly to SJ and can sound confident saying “You’re my ending.” Hwa-Young’s relationship with Young Jae is influenced by her time with MS: because that didn’t work, now she’s afraid to be the lioness. It isn’t even clear whether she likes Young Jae, whereas she used to be very obvious. We won’t get to learn much more about Ra-Ra, but clearly she likes that Director Jo is a fierce go-getter like herself, whereas Myeong-Soo was too laid-back and unpretentious for her, I have a feeling. I wish we could see more of these correspondences, and a bit more of the exes friendship. I can believe they’ll become friends, but I really want to see a little more of it happening. They aren’t particularly good at being friends and they need some more practice on that count.

      Some of this music is so hard to track down! And I can’t stand that they’ve taken 25% of the series away from us!

  2. I would like to know more about the Ra Ra relationship. Losing 25% is really hurting this show and I expect that both the Ra-Ra and Director Jo storylines are where we are going to lose out the most.

  3. I don’t have anything new to add to the discussion, really. You’ve said everything I had swirling inside me like a hot mess, and just didn’t know how to put into coherent words. I hardly ever watch kdramas, more or less post on sites about it. Just never had any interest. BUT the teasers for this series slayed me like a slab of tuna. Got roped in by the hilarious teasers and Song Ji Hyo’s star power.

    Anyway, I digress. What I came here to say is that contrary to your opinion, Soo Jin’s behavior with Myeong Soo is pretty consistent to me. She’s always been pretty reluctant to express her affections. Like the time when he came back from his “trip” and told her he didn’t want to be friends anymore, but even after everyone leaves, she dawdles, not willing to spill her guts just yet, and then makes her escape when they get interrupted by Jin Bae. Or the time they’re on the phone and she says something cute, but hangs up when he asks her to repeat it. I love how it’s consistent with what we know to be true: Soo Jin admitted in the scene where she said that she’s afraid of turning sixty without ever having dated, that she has never been in a serious relationship before, and doesn’t know how to react.

    But the big difference I saw in this last uber-cute kiss scene is that this time, she actually followed through with his request instead of escaping like always. One of the reasons why I love this show so much, is the character growth. I don’t always expect growth in every drama, but it makes so much perfect sense here because the natural process happened right in front of our eyes. This couple feels so organic and real. If this is the direction kdramas are going, then count me in

    • You’re right, Hatsumi. It’s consistent with Soo Jin’s story and all the examples you give. I shouldn’t pick on her. But it means that 12 episodes isn’t enough to take us very far into their relationship. And because they’re such good friends, I wanted to see how they negotiate the bumps in the road once they’re really serious. So few K-dramas show the tricky moments later on, but I thought this one might, like Marriage not Dating did. MND has a great episode after the couple are officially dating, when they’re trying to act “cool” and be an ideal couple but they just confuse each other–it’s very funny but also very real-world. I didn’t get hooked on MND the way I love Exes Club, but it was a smart show.

      I do see a few K-dramas telling character-driven stories where the people are more memorable than the plot twists. Even though I’m annoyed at tvN right now, I give the cable channel some credit for focusing shows on fresh characters. Now if only they’d give us more Myeong-Soo and Soo-Jin! But you’re right, it would be even weirder if Soo-Jin’s personality changed because the series was shortened. She’s true to herself. And I do like her so much.

      • I agree with Erin abt Soo Jin’s shyness. Its how she is. I like that she didnt just change over night. I like when we are shown these little things in k-drama relationships bc it feels real. There hav been way too many times where I felt like the couple is suddenly boring now that they’re together. I like the fluff but too much gets boring eventually. The little relationship stuff is interesting and much more relatable. Still, I did found her blushing a bit much at times. It was as if Song Ji Hyo was forcing the cute so that for me made it feel like acting. That took my focus out a bit. But I still enjoy their scenes so much.

        Also MS’s reaction after SJ’s cheek kiss was so cute. And I replayed that last scene in ep 10 quite a bit. I don’t think ive said this but thank u so much Odessa for the uncap! I look forward to ur uncaps as much as ExGC.

        • I think maybe it was the occasional “forcing the cute” that bothered me. Soo-Jin should be cute without trying to be.

  4. I was scrolling through the comments then I realized, I didn’t comment yet. How is this?! Anyway, I don’t know why but the usual giddiness I have for the show has gone down. Maybe bc it ends this week. T__T. I think ive made peace with it tho. Im okay that its ending soon. I mean whatelse can I do?
    All that aside, I liked ep 10 much more than 9. It felt like the show I’d grown to love. Im gonna miss it. But for now ill be cheering EXGC on til the end.
    Did anyone see the preview for ep 11?! It had me laughing. Jo Guen seems to be stepping up his game and MS is NOT happy! Im so looking forward to it after that preview. Im watching it as soon as it comes out. I don’t mind no subs.

    • Hi Camille! I’m glad you’re hanging in there. I figured you’d be feeling down this week because it’s the last week. I agree about ep 10. Although I thought it was smart that in ep 9, everyone kept covering for Hwa Young and she still messed things up.

      As of yesterday, I think I’m hooked on Mask, which I didn’t expect to get into because Joo Ji-Hoon kinda bores me. But it’s over-the-top melo, and you know me–I like my extremes!

      • When u watch ep 11 I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. It was hilarious! And if that was the raw the subs will be way better. Maybe I’ll check out Mask. After ExGC I need another drama to add to my list. Currently im watching School 2015, warm & cozy, Producer, High Society and ExGC. This show ends tomorrow and School 2015 ends next week. Something has to fill the void. But im a little cautious with Melo-dramas. I can’t take the crying and angst.

        • Oh good! So frustrating to only have 2 eps left. I used to think I didn’t like melodrama, but then it turned out I just didn’t like bad melodrama. High Society definitely has a melo side. Sung Joon never exactly plays carefree, happy types, and I’m digging his repressed anger as the self-made man. And of course Park Myung Sik is there to be cute and funny–a good mix of elements. It has me hopeful.

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