The characters in Ex-Girlfriend Club are smart, good-looking people who would be great catches if not for one small flaw—romance is their kryptonite. Relationships trigger their self-destruct mode. And in episodes 5 and 6 we see that Director Geun is no better than the rest of them. Until now, he’s been enjoying watching everyone else act like idiots, but I have a feeling his new-found crush on Soo-Jin is going to lead him to do silly things too. And all I can say is: Hooray! More silly!
This show continues to offer classic farce, complete with concealed identities, secret relationships and people sneaking in and out of rooms they aren’t supposed to be in. Soo-Jin is trying to convince Director Geun to make her movie. But Hwa-Young doesn’t want Director Geun to know that she’s working on a movie with her ex-boyfriend Myeong-Soo.
Hwa-Young’s craziness has a way of sweeping up everyone else. Against their better judgment, Soo-Jin and Myeong-Soo end up helping her by pretending they’re dating. When the group goes on a weekend retreat to discuss the script, Director Geun figures out how the four women are related to Myeong-Soo. He even figures out that several of them were hiding under Myeong-Soo’s bed late at night (above).
He threatens Hwa-Young with exposing her secret. He doesn’t want to do the movie because she’s deceiving his friend, her fiancé. Ra-Ra tries to convince the director to change his mind in a hilarious and embarrassing failed seduction. Then Soo-Jin tries (in a more serious vein) and fails. But the director can’t get Soo-Jin out of his mind and he may give in after all (below).
That’s the basic outline. What’s most interesting in these episodes is that we start to get Myeong-Soo’s point of view on his relationship with Soo-Jin. We also get hints of just how close they were three years ago.
Myeong-Soo acts pleased to be Soo-Jin’s “fake boyfriend.” He flirts with Soo-Jin and wants to make plans together. He also tells Ji-Ah he won’t come by the restaurant for awhile, as if his priorities have changed. Gotta put some effort into that fake relationship!
But things get awkward on the weekend brainstorming retreat. The director, already suspicious of their “relationship,” asks how they met, then points out that the story came from a popular movie. Myeong-Soo and Soo-Jin are embarrassed in front of the exes and Hwa-Young’s fiance. The director makes it pretty clear he doesn’t believe they’re really dating.
Then Myeong-Soo gets serious for once. He tells the story of their “first kiss,” but it’s really the story of a time three years ago when he missed Soo-Jin and spontaneously visited her where she was working on a movie.
“If I didn’t go into the bar right then,” he says, “we’d always be just friends.”
The story he tells ends with him entering and kissing Soo-Jin, while in the flashback we see what really happened. He watches Soo-Jin through the window as she laughs with colleagues. She drinks a “love shot” with her lead actor, who calls her noona (making it clear they aren’t dating). Myeong-Soo stands at the door a long time. He almost enters a few times, then finally walks away. Is he discouraged because she looks so happy? Because of the good-looking actor next to her? We don’t know exactly, but we can’t miss the sadness on his face as he blinks back a couple tears.
To top it off, when Director Geun teasingly asks Myeong-Soo how he kissed Soo-Jin, the writer says, I’ll show you. He turns to Soo-Jin and leans in. He’s about to plant one on her lips when a wineglass shatters and breaks the mood (above).
The exes don’t know whether or not to believe Myeong-Soo, leading to their absurd consultation later that night (above). But we’re on the inside and know that it’s a real memory.
Myeong-Soo’s revelation overturns previous versions of the story the way Soo-Jin did in episode 2. Now it looks like it wasn’t a one-sided thing after all. Myeong-Soo did have feelings for Soo-Jin that went past friendship. In fact, as he tells the story in front of an audience in episode 5, he rekindles their old chemistry together. For the length of that scene, we can’t imagine them as merely friends.
And knowing that Myeong-Soo was attracted to Soo-Jin, maybe we have to believe a few of the things he’s said. Maybe he really meant it when he said in episode 1 that he missed the period of his life they hung out, that it was the happiest time for him. Maybe he meant what he said in episode 5, when he compares seeing Soo-Jin again to seeing his ex Ji-Ah again. Soo-Jin is also “someone it was nice to see again.”
Myeong-Soo’s tricky. After he tells Soo-Jin about chickening out three years ago—after he almost kisses her!—he doesn’t mention it again. He doesn’t apologize for saying in episode 2 that they were “just best friends.” He doesn’t tell her that he wants to go out with her now. Soo-Jin asks him point-blank if he has anything more to tell her and he says no.
But everyone can see that Myeong-Soo likes Soo-Jin at the moment. Even Myeong-Soo’s comic writer office-mate thinks he’s going out with Soo-Jin. And Myeong-Soo acts like a man with a serious crush as he sends off text messages to Soo-Jin and agonizes when she doesn’t respond.
Endearingly, Myeong-Soo is waiting for Soo-Jin when she gets home after fighting about the movie project with Director Geun (above). He tries to cheer her up by doing a silly dance and shouting out cheesy inspirational quotes (below). Once they’re home, he sends her encouraging text messages late at night.
Myeong-Soo’s messing with her mind though. He refers to himself as oppa in a text message to Soo-Jin, which only makes sense if they’re dating or intend to start dating soon (like tomorrow). Unless they’re literally siblings, “oppa” has a flirtatious connotation. It’s the last thing he should say if he wants a Platonic friendship.
The look on Soo-Jin’s face when she gets this “oppa” text suggests she’s been through this with Myeong-Soo before (below). Yikes! Did he do this three years ago? What is this guy’s problem?
Soo-Jin handles his confusing behavior with grace. She continues to be friendly, but you can see how much he’s hurting her. And she doesn’t answer his stupid text messages.
Soo-Jin also handles Director Geun well. In episode 6 the director says he might reconsider quitting the movie if she would beg him, or apologize to him (for telling him he’s rude)—basically, if she’ll give him a little romantic hope.
She shoots him down, partly because she doesn’t take him seriously, but also I suspect because this is her job—and the director’s job too. If he’s going to make a movie, he should do it because he believes in the movie.
One thing I appreciate about Soo-Jin and Myeong-Soo is that as awkward as things get, they both believe in their project together. Neither tries to hold the movie hostage because of personal issues. That’s what the exes do—and what the director’s trying to do. He’s more concerned with figuring out how everyone’s related than with the script.
Myeong-Soo grows harder to understand the more we know about him. Why is he so insecure about Soo-Jin?
I wonder if Ji-Ah is a factor. Myeong-Soo says that he “cried the most” when he broke up with her five years ago. He must have met Soo-Jin not long after Ji-Ah left him to marry a rich husband. He might not have had any confidence when he met Soo-Jin.
He also doesn’t have much judgment when it comes to love. To think that his first love was Hwa-Young! Even Myeong-Soo admits that he mistook her crazy stalking behavior for love. And his next girlfriend was Ji-Ah, who told him from the beginning that she was continuing to look for an arranged marriage with a rich husband. He really doesn’t protect his own heart at all, does he?
One small mystery in these episodes: what happened to Soo-Jin’s phone? One reason Soo-Jin and Myeong-Soo drift apart is that he couldn’t reach her on the phone that night three years ago. The number he dials is unreachable. When Myeong-Soo finds Soo-Jin, she has her phone and it’s answering to a new number. Does he think she’s ditching him by changing numbers?
To add to my mystification, in episode one Myeong-Soo makes a point of asking Soo-Jin if she’s changed her number since the old days. She insists she hasn’t. The scene where he runs through all the Soo-Jins in his phone ensues. He’s acting like the opposite of that guy who traveled for hours to find her when she didn’t answer her phone. Is Myeong-Soo’s “Oh, I know so many Soo-Jins” act a smidgen of petty revenge for her number change three years ago? And if Soo-Jin did change her number, why does she deny it?
I hope the missed signals between Myeong-Soo and Soo-Jin won’t turn out to be the result of a simple wrong number. I don’t think that’s the only thing that went wrong. A lot happens beneath the surface here, and the misunderstandings grow out of real personality issues. I’m looking forward to this show more and more every week!
One clever development here is that the exes are acting more than ever like a team of conspirators. Ra-Ra and Ji-Ah are like naughty best friends when they crash the retreat together (above). When the three sit around the bar in Ji-Ah’s empty restaurant, they really do look like a kids’ secret society plotting in their clubhouse—a real ex-girlfriend’s club.
These episodes had so many funny moments, but my personal favorite might be the love scene that Soo-Jin interrupts between her sister and brother-in-law (above). These two are so weird, they’re made for each other. And the backdrop of kids’ coloring on the wallpaper says it everything we need to know about romance while raising small children. I knew Soo-Jin’s sister had more to her, underneath all those worries about money! ♥