In 2004, the most pressing concerns for the college students were playing soccer, the cheapest, fastest way to get drunk, and hiding guests from the landlords. But in 2018, Sun struggles with his new unwanted houseguest while Dae-young tries to figure out if he should accept a new job offer. Seo-yeon manages to insert herself into the middle of everyone’s lives, while Ji-woo continues to be a shadow of her former self.
EPISODE 3: “Kosher or Halal”
We rewind a little to pick up where food company exec Sun is coerced into letting Ji-woo’s sister Seo-yeon live with him until his cousin returns to Korea. Seo-yeon claims the guest room, and Sun lays down the line. Literally. He points out an imaginary line that Seo-yeon isn’t to cross, since Sun likes his privacy and doesn’t want her making herself feel at home in his apartment.
Meanwhile, Dae-young tosses and turns in his bed as he thinks over Sun’s offer to join CQ Foods. He stays up late researching what a “food creator” does.
In the morning, Sun is annoyed to find Seo-yeon in the kitchen preparing breakfast. He reminds her that she’s not allowed in that part of the apartment, but Seo-yeon turns up the charm and insists it’s the least she can do since she’s staying with him. Then she asks for money to pay for daily expenses to help her track down her missing business partner, but Sun staunchly refuses.
He takes a call from Dae-young, who agrees to meet about the job, and Seo-yeon overhears the name Gu Dae-young. Sun leaves, and Seo-yeon is left alone — and still broke — to clean up the uneaten breakfast. But not before taking some cute selfies!
Dae-young arrives at Sun’s office, and he’s a little intimidated by the large building. He’s also overwhelmed by all the English business terms that he overhears other workers effortlessly rattle off. Sun escorts him into a meeting with the creative team so Dae-young can get a feel for the office and his potential future colleagues, but poor Dae-young just looks lost with all the buzzwords everyone is throwing around as they argue about focusing on either halal or kosher food.
Sun is confident that Dae-young is a good fit for CQ Foods and offers him a consulting contract as a “food creator.” Dae-young politely declines, saying that he doesn’t think he’s what Sun is looking for. Sun thinks Dae-young is negotiating a better rate, but Dae-young is sincere — he doesn’t belong, and is better suited for insurance.
In order to feel more like himself again, Dae-young enjoys a solo lunch of naengmyeon (cold noodle soup). By the time he slurps down the last bit of broth, he’s in a better mood — and of course takes photos of the empty bowl to post on his blog.
Seo-yeon tries to find out if anyone knows where her missing business partner is, but isn’t having any luck. She hears the door unlock and scrambles to her room so Sun doesn’t catch her in the “forbidden” living room. But it’s just the housekeeper, who’s surprised to see Seo-yeon.
Seo-yeon craftily tells the housekeeper that her services are no longer needed since Seo-yeon has been hired as the new housekeeper. At least Seo-yeon actually does clean the apartment, reasoning that this way she can not only be in the rest of the apartment, but Sun will have to pay her for her efforts. As she dusts his desk, she knocks off a few papers, including Dae-young’s resume.
She realizes that the Dae-young Sun was talking about earlier was actually the Dae-young she used to know back in 2004.
Flashback! Twenty-year-old Dae-young is on his way home from work when he runs into the sisters returning from a movie (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which — to every Potterhead’s horror — they declare as boring as the book). Dae-young gives Ji-woo a bag of complimentary Bennigan’s bread since he saw how much she enjoyed it the last time she was there. Ah, yes, the way to a girl’s heart is delicious, free bread.
They panic when they see the landlord sitting outside, though, since Seo-yeon is still living secretly with Ji-woo. Dae-young does his best to distract the nearly-deaf landlord, but none of his efforts work. But the nearly-deaf landlord can somehow hear the soda cans Seo-yeon tosses down the road and the old man runs after the cans to collect them for recycling, allowing the girls to scurry upstairs unseen.
Dae-young joins his friends as they eat, drink, and watch TV at his place. Ha, I love that Dae-young has the exact same piggybank as Park Shin-yang’s character in the Lovers in Paris scene they’re watching right then. Thanks to something Seo-yeon said earlier, Dae-young ponders his precious Park Ji-sung signed soccer ball and wonders if they should start a soccer club.
Next door, Seo-yeon watches TV and Ji-woo cleans up after her, annoyed by all the hair and crumbs Seo-yeon leaves behind. Both girls scramble to attention when they hear the landlady knock on the door, wanting to check to see if there’s anything wrong since the water bill is much higher than usual.
Ji-woo shoves Seo-yeon out onto the tiny porch to hide while the landlady looks around for anything suspicious, since she’s convinced she heard Ji-woo talking to someone else. Ji-woo nervously says it was just the TV, and then awkwardly tries to convince the landlady that the larger cup-size bra hanging up to dry is really hers, despite her obviously flat chest. Pffft.
When the landlady opens the door to the tiny porch, Seo-yeon isn’t there! That’s because she climbed to the next door window and into Dae-young’s room — where all the boys are standing on their heads, drinking soju from a straw to test the theory that drinking upside down makes you drunk faster. Hahahaha! They’re shocked to see her crawling in like a ghost, and they tumble to their feet.
The landlady barges in, and everyone thinks she’s going to confront them about Seo-yeon, but instead the landlady just chides them for throwing away perfectly good soju bottles when they should give them to her for recycling. Dae-young easily smooths over her concerns about the water bill, promising to pay any difference since she thinks that maybe his friends are the ones using more water.
Now that everyone’s hanging out in Dae-young’s room, Jin-seok brags that he’s going to show off his flirting skills. He tells Seo-yeon that she’s like an integral — which is just a nerdy way of complimenting her on her “S-line.” Seo-yeon doesn’t fall for it and tells him he’s full of crap, then stomps out — and accidentally steps on shy and silent Byung-sam’s foot.
Ji-woo immediately apologizes for Seo-yeon’s actions — in sign language. She assumes that since Byung-sam never speaks, he must be deaf. Dae-young quickly corrects her: Byung-sam can hear and speak just fine, he’s just terrified of girls and too afraid to talk in front of them.
Sung-joo wonders how Ji-woo and Seo-yeon can be sisters when they’re the same age. When Ji-woo hesitates in answering, Dae-young quickly covers by lying that they’re fraternal twins. That confuses the other boys, since they just celebrated Seo-yeon’s birthday but not Ji-woo’s. Dae-young says that it’s because Ji-woo celebrates the lunar birthday so that the sisters can enjoy separate birthdays. The boys buy it, and Ji-woo looks so pleased and thankful for Dae-young stepping in.
Dae-young wants to start a soccer club, but none of his fellow engineering students are interested when they hear that there won’t be any girls there. Dae-young convinces Ji-woo to join the club, saying that she can be the nurse in case anyone gets hurt — then admits that he’s only really asking because no one will agree to join his club unless he can get a girl to join. Ji-woo agrees to help him out.
Seo-yeon finds it strange that Ji-woo is suddenly interested in soccer when she’s never liked it before. She points out that Ji-woo knows nothing about the game, and was even angry when her dramas were canceled because of the World Cup. Hear, hear!
But when Seo-yeon discovers that Dae-young is the one leading the club, she’s suddenly interested, too, and becomes the team’s “mascot.” She’s not doing it completely for nothing, as Jin-seok agrees to be her errand boy forever provided she becomes a member.
Ji-woo’s surprised, since Seo-yeon doesn’t go to their school — she actually attends a nearby university. After a brief conference, the boys decide that the club can be intramural.
Seo-yeon may be the mascot, but Ji-woo’s the one who’s cheering her heart out (while Seo-yeon poses for selfies, of course). Dae-young tries to rally his inexperienced team, but they’re genuinely terrible. Jin-seok is distracted when Seo-yeon requests water and he immediately runs off the field in the middle of the game to fetch it for her, which allows the other team to win.
Despite losing, they enjoy a team dinner together. The guys stare in amazement at Ji-woo’s little hacks to make their side dishes even more delicious, as well as her ingenuity in saving the main dishes after Jin-seok gave the good bits to Seo-yeon. Ji-woo says it’s nothing special — it’s just what one naturally picks up by being the daughter of a cook. Even Seo-yeon momentarily stops her endless selfies and enjoys the meal.
Dae-young suggests taking the party elsewhere for another round, reassuring everyone it’s a cheap place. Ha, instead of a club, they end up hanging out in the park with convenience store beer. They argue about what they should name their soccer club, and Dae-young says it should be a name that reflects their desire to become a bright star, such as “Highlight.”
Sung-joo retorts the name should reflect their ferocity, and suggests “Beast” instead. HA! It’s extra funny in a meta way since Doo-joon is the leader of the K-pop idol group Beast who later changed their name to Highlight.
The boys eventually succumb to drunken slumber in the middle of the park, and Ji-woo worries about leaving them there. Seo-yeon says they should be fine. Even so, Ji-woo can’t leave her neighbor behind, and somehow manages to piggyback Dae-young home.
Seo-yeon is pretty sure that Ji-woo likes Dae-young (because why else this sudden interest in soccer and willingness to carry someone twice her size?), but Ji-woo staunchly denies it. Seo-yeon doesn’t seem convinced, though.
Back to 2018, where Seo-yeon takes a photo of Dae-young’s resumé. Sun returns home and is yet again annoyed that Seo-yeon didn’t stay in the guest room. But Seo-yeon says that his housekeeper quit so she was helping out by cleaning. Angry, Sun declares that even the bathroom is now off limits and drags a cord across the hallway, demarcating the small space she can occupy.
He’s further frustrated when Seo-yeon says that she can sign Dae-young, since it’s proof that Seo-yeon’s been going through his belongings. Seo-yeon promises that she’ll get Dae-young to sign the contract, and if she does, then Sun should pay her expenses.
It’s Soo-ji’s memorial day (sob), and Dae-young is at the columbarium when he receives a call from an unknown number. When he returns home, he’s surprised to see Seo-yeon waiting for him.
Dae-young thinks she must be there for Ji-woo, who also arrives at that moment. The two women stare at each other, then Seo-yeon covers her surprise by cheerfully greeting Ji-woo. Ji-woo just ignores her and continues upstairs to her apartment.
Dae-young asks Seo-yeon what happened between her and Ji-woo. Seo-yeon says that her father died during their second year of college, and because she felt awkward staying with Ji-woo when they were no longer related, Seo-yeon left for America and they gradually lost touch.
He wonders how Seo-yeon knew where he lived, and she says that it’s because she reads his blog and saw a post about a nearby restaurant where he said he’d moved into the neighborhood. She asked around until she learned where he was. She says she picked up some sleuthing skills thanks to being a headhunter, and then reveals that she’s actually there to scout him for CQ Foods.
He insists he’s fine with his current job, but Seo-yeon smoothly rattles off a bunch of statistics that paint a very depressing picture for an insurance salesman trying to find new clients. She says that even though his job is being made redundant by computer programs that cut out the middle man, a food creator is something no computer could do.
Upstairs from the cafe, Ji-woo sits on the balcony and enjoys her soju bomb, wondering what exactly Seo-yeon is planning after showing up out of the blue all these years later. She watches as Dae-young and Seo-yeon say goodbye to each other, and just as Seo-yeon turns to leave, she spots Ji-woo on the balcony.
Seo-yeon pulls Dae-young into a hug. He’s bewildered but she just excuses it as one of her Americanisms, although it’s clearly an act to annoy Ji-woo.
Ji-woo tries to ignore Dae-young as he heads to his apartment. He reveals that Seo-yeon came to scout him, and Ji-woo says that he should just stick with what he knows. He’s too old to jump into a new industry and start from the bottom again. Dae-young agrees, adding that he turned down the offer.
A deliveryman picks up an order from a trendy restaurant. It’s an uncooked single serving with the ingredients neatly portioned out. Sun enjoys creating his pasta dish from the ingredients, where the only effort he has to put into it cooking it is dumping everything into a pan.
His enjoyment of the meal is ruined when the doorbell rings. It’s Seo-yeon, who cheerfully tells him that she met with Dae-young and has a good feeling that he’ll sign the contract. Sun only cares about her staying behind the line.
Dae-young and Ji-woo are enjoying drinks on her balcony, but he steps away to buy snacks and leaves his phone behind. Ji-woo sees Seo-yeon’s messages asking to meet him later on Tuesday, so when Dae-young returns, she immediately gets him to agree to meet her at work since she has a prospective client for him. But they can only meet on Tuesday, and she makes Dae-young tell Seo-yeon that they can’t meet.
In the morning, Seo-yeon saunters out of the bedroom, headed to the bathroom. Sun is still stubbornly adamant that she can’t use it (because it’s on the other side of the line), but she can use the public bathroom in the lobby downstairs. She asks for the code to his apartment since he’s going to be leaving soon and she doesn’t want to be locked out. Sun merely says that she’d better return in five minutes — or else.
Still in her nightgown, she speeds off downstairs — muttering curses under breath, much to the scandalized horror of the mother and child in the elevator — and returns in time to stick her foot in the door just as Sun is closing it. She once again pleads for expense money, reminding him that she’s meeting with Dae-young and she’s sure to get him to agree to sign the contract. But Sun only agrees to pay her once the contract is signed.
A friend tips Seo-yeon off that her delinquent partner was spotted at a nearby mall, and Seo-yeon rushes out the door — still in her nightgown, robe, and house slippers. She takes a taxi, only realizing afterwards that she’s using up the last of her precious cash.
The prospective client Ji-woo found for Dae-young is her nurse friend, Yoon-ji, who’s more curious to meet the man that’s melted the coldhearted Ji-woo. Ji-woo pleads with Yoon-ji not to say anything weird, reminding her that Dae-young has a girlfriend.
They find Dae-young outside, staring at a food delivery truck. He muses that while he likes the idea of personal delivery, sometimes the food gets cold and soggy before you can eat it, which makes him ponder CQ Food’s delivery plans. Over lunch, Dae-young explains the insurance plan, but Yoon-ji’s more interested in complimenting Dae-young on how handsome he is. Ha!
Dae-young notices a solo diner being politely refused service since the restaurant is only able to provide two or more servings. He muses that there are more and more solo diners these days, yet there are still a lot of delicious restaurants that make it difficult for someone to enjoy them alone. No wonder the concept of home delivery seems so appealing.
Ji-woo laughs and tells Dae-young that he should just accept the job with CQ Foods, since he can’t seem to stop thinking about it. She reminds him that he used to be the kind of guy who would run headlong into whatever interested him with no regrets. Life is too long to just be stuck in one occupation forever, she says.
Seo-yeon spends the entire day at the mall, desperately looking for Jung-ah, the delinquent business partner. But no luck. The mall closes and Seo-yeon heads outside into the rain. She doesn’t even have enough change for a cheap umbrella and walks back to Sun’s apartment, a soggy, sopping, exhausted mess.
He’s not home, though, and Seo-yeon doesn’t have the front door code. She calls him and asks for the code to be let in, but he tells her that she can wait until he finishes his workout. She tries to argue with him, but Sun cuts her off when he sees Dae-young calling.
Dae-young tells Sun that he’ll accept the job. Sun is thrilled and genuinely impressed that Seo-yeon knew what she was doing after all. Sun finishes his workout and returns to his apartment, but he’s shocked to find Seo-yeon passed out in front of the door. Worried, he picks her up and runs to the elevator.
I’d thought Seo-yeon was pretty foolish, since she seemed to still be as flighty and irresponsible as she was back in 2004 and apparently got scammed out of a bunch of money. But actually Seo-yeon is pretty smart and resourceful — she definitely could be a real headhunter if she wanted, considering how deft she is at manipulation. I mean that in a good way, mostly, since she’s pretty shrewd to instinctively pick up on what people want and what will most likely motivate them so she can get her way. It may not be exactly the way I would do business, but I can’t deny that it’s effective. Er, well, mostly effective, since she’s currently broke.
Then again, Dae-young might not have been so willing to agree to sign on with CQ Foods if it weren’t for Ji-woo’s support (which seems like a 180 from the previous night when she told him not to do it, but I can’t begrudge her for feeling a little petty and protective after suddenly being bombarded with her long-lost — yet apparently hated — ex-stepsister). Dae-young might have come to that decision eventually himself, but I think the encouragement from his foodie mentor means a lot to him, especially since it seems like she’s always been his cheerleader (sometimes even literally!).
I’m curious to see how this solo-dining delivery thing will work out. I was just assuming Sun was interested in creating already prepared meals, but I think it would be pretty awesome if Dae-young and Sun end up creating something like a Blue Apron type of food delivery, where single folk can enjoy delicious gourmet home-cooked meals without the hassle of spending money on bulk ingredients that might expire before they can be used. That way customers can have fresh food without the cold and soggy fears of regular delivery food.
I’m also excited to see how things will shake up with the fearless Seo-yeon flying into everyone’s lives and shaking them out of their ruts. Not just with Dae-young starting a new career, but hopefully also with Ji-woo rediscovering her joy. Everything we’ve seen of Ji-woo in the 2018 timeline seems to indicate that she’s settled into an endless routine of work, home, and visiting her mother. So Ji-woo could use a little spice — just as Seo-yeon could probably benefit from a little toning down. I’m still dying to know what really split these two sisters apart (since I can’t believe Seo-yeon’s story that they just gradually grew distant), and I hope that they can work through it because I love their dynamic together, even if it’s mostly Ji-woo nagging and Seo-yeon pushing Ji-woo to try new things. They’re the yin to each other’s yang, and I hope Dae-young uses his mystical foodie power of bringing people together to help them learn how to be sisters again.