FINALLY! We get a couple of exciting episodes as Bok Nyeo’s past is fully revealed. As we’re at the halfway point of the drama, I really think this could end at 16 episodes rather than the 20 it’s slated for. It would be short, sweet, and to the point. I don’t think we need to see the Eun Family change even more than they already have, or have Sang Chul fall in love with Bok Nyeo. Even though the story is implying it, please don’t.
Sang Chul sends Bok Nyeo home first with some of his belongings. He then takes Song Hwa to the river where his wife died and, using a shallow river as a metaphor, tells her that he’s too weak to bear any more burdens. While flattered that she wants to “take responsibility” for him, he wants to start his life over as a good father to his children. With that, he effectively dumps her.
The children hang balloons in the house welcoming their father home, which is a bit extravagant if you ask me. Just several weeks ago they harshly kicked him out and now they celebrate his return. Sang Chul is thankful his children have forgiven him, especially since he no longer has a job and can’t provide for them. His father-in-law still isn’t too happy with him but at least Sang Chul doesn’t have to give up his parental rights.
The children find Bok Nyeo at the amusement park on her off day and try to get her to talk about her family. They want to help her heal just as she helped their family come back together. But she stands firm: if they continue forcing her to talk about her family, she will have to quit.
That evening, Han Gyul has a strange dream where she finds Na Young acting as Bok Nyeo, and Bok Nyeo acting as Na Young. It’s hilarious and eerie at the same time because the actresses nail each other so well, from the stiffness to the clumsiness. Plus we get to see Choi Ji Woo act happy for once! But it’s all a dream, and Han Gyul wakes up from her nap to find Bok Nyeo at the kitchen, and Na Young causing chaos the moment she falls into the house. Strangely enough, Han Gyul’s dream is actually what happens.
Hye Gyul invites Bok Nyeo to eat with them for dinner but Bok Nyeo declines. She’s not part of their family so she won’t sit with them. The children develop a strange theory that Bok Nyeo is actually their mother’s ghost because she cooks exactly like their mother and came to the house 49 days after the mother passed away.
They decide to give her a test by presenting her some red bean buns, which ghosts are not supposed to like. Doo Gyul makes the mistake of overselling them as “really delicious” because Bok Nyeo then replies that he can have it all instead. They watch her peel and chop onions without shedding a single tear. Finally Hye Gyul just bursts out, “Are you a ghost? Are you mom reincarnated?” Bok Nyeo, who refuses to talk about useless topics not related to her job, is not pleased.
The kids then challenge her to some games. If they win, she must reveal her past. If she wins they will never ask again. Hye Gyul challenges her to a game of rock-paper-scissors because she’s a champ at that, but loses sorely to Bok Nyeo. Sae Gyul challenges her to puzzle making, and she beats him in assembling it faster. Doo Gyul challenges her to an arm wrestle and Bok Nyeo wins without a contest. Han Gyul challenges her to a karaoke contest. Han Gyul actually sings her song and scores a 98. Bok Nyeo speaks the lyrics and gets a 100. That machine is totally rigged.
Since Bok Nyeo won the children are no longer allowed to ask about her past. Hah – like they’ll give up.
Grandpa goes to Manager Hong to see if she has a housekeeper available since Na Young ran away from home (due to disagreements over Sang Chul raising the kids). Manager Hong refuses to accept any insults about Bok Nyeo since she practically raised her, which prompts Grandpa to ask, “Is she… my child?!” HAHA – what could possibly have prompted him to say that?! Aside from the innuendos about Manager Hong and Grandpa’s past relationship, Manager Hong tricks him into thinking it’s true and then takes it back.
The kids watch Mary Poppins and realize that Bok Nyeo’s bag is always full of things even though it seems too small, just like Mary Poppins’. Doo Gyul tries to pry it open but is caught by Bok Nyeo. Uh oh.
Back at school, Soo Hyuk doesn’t appear attend for several days. Worried, Han Gyul texts him only to find out that he’s playing hooky and gone to Haeundae. In reality he’s working as an errand boy to earn some money for his dad’s constant troubles. Woo Jae and Bok Nyeo catch him at Mr. Shin’s butcher shop, and Soo Hyuk requests that Woo Jae keep his secret from Han Gyul. He manages to ride away just as Han Gyul passes by without her noticing. Later that afternoon, Han Gyul asks Bok Nyeo what she should do about the boy she’s worried about in school. Bok Nyeo, having witnessed the love triangle from a distance, replies, “Which guy? Choi Soo Hyuk, the guy you like, or Shin Woo Jae, the guy who likes you?” Han Gyul means Soo Hyuk, but I hope Bok Nyeo’s comment planted a seed in her head about Woo Jae!
Sang Chul invites Bok Nyeo out for dinner as the children want to take her out as a form of thanks. Bok Nyeo, of course, adamantly refuses – even when Sang Chul and Manager Hong pretty much order her to go – because she doesn’t see herself as part of the family. Her mysterious stalker also catches her outside Happy Company and tries to convince her to turn herself in. After all, he and her mother-in-law will not rest until they catch her.
Song Hwa and Han Gyul bump into each other by the river. Song Hwa is clearly not over Sang Chul, and goes so far as to ask if Han Gyul and her siblings would accept her as their stepmother. Han Gyul recognizes that Song Hwa’s pride has been hurt, and tells her to go ask their mother for permission first. Hah.
But Song Hwa’s not going to be in a slump for too long. She gets an interview at another firm where the CEO, Jang Do Hyung (Song Joon Ho!) practically hits on her instead of asking about her skills. Since he’s physically attracted to her, she automatically makes it to round 2: The Dinner.
He takes her out to a nice restaurant and proceeds to ask personal questions about her marital status. Sheesh. It’s a testament to Song Hwa’s strong will that she barely bats an eye to his somewhat sexist remarks.
It just so happens that they’re dining at the same restaurant where Aunt Na Young is treating the whole family, including Bok Nyeo. When Sang Chul sees Song Hwa’s “interview” by chance, it’s an awkward introduction, but Sang Chul leaves her be. He picks up Bok Nyeo at the front door and, as they pass Song Hwa’s table, Bok Nyeo freezes at the sight of Do Hyung. “Seo… Ji Hoon?” she asks, thunderstruck. Suddenly she has him by the collar and pushes him to the floor, screaming, “Why are you still alive!?” He knocks over a faux marble statue as he falls and hurts himself. Though he’s not Ji Hoon, Do Hyung is intrigued by why Bok Nyeo thought him to be Ji Hoon.
Sang Chul and Song Hwa end up apologizing to Do Hyung for Bok Nyeo’s behavior. That is when Do Hyung becomes mightily interested in Sang Chul and Bok Nyeo.
News spreads of what Bok Nyeo did, and Grandpa goes to Happy Company to demand real answers from Manager Hong. He can’t let Bok Nyeo’s actions be excused this time around. The children also want to know how Do Hyung/Ji Hoon are related to their housekeeper’s past. That’s when Hye Gyul remembers Manager Hong’s side comment that if Bok Nyeo eats a certain cookie she will reveal all of her secrets.
It’s a long shot to get the truth, but the family sits Bok Nyeo down at the table and order her to have a cookie. With one minuscule bite, Bok Nyeo is ready to reveal everything about her past.
And thus begins the tale of Park Bok Nyeo.
Between Bok Nyeo and Manager Hong’s narration, we learn that Bok Nyeo’s real name is Eun Soo. Manager Hong worked in her house after her father died while trying to save her. Eun Soo was neglected by her mother after the incident and she tried to make up for it by excelling in academics, music and art. She always smiled even though she was really lonely.
When Eun Soo’s mother remarried, her stepfather mistreated her but her mother blamed it on Eun Soo’s smile. Because her smile was so beautiful, many started to think that she was a flirt. When she got into college, Eun Soo moved out and supported herself. She tutored a young man whom many had given up on, and he turned out to be the brilliant Seo Ji Hoon. Afterwards, Eun Soo left to volunteer in Somalia because she felt like someone was constantly stalking her.
Eun Soo met her husband in Somalia and they had a child. They moved back to Korea and had a happy life… until Seo Ji Hoon arrived at her doorstep. He passed himself off as an indebted student, so the husband welcomed him like a brother. However Ji Hoon was madly in love with Eun Soo and threatened to lie about them having an affair. Eun Soo told her husband the truth of the situation and Ji Hoon was kicked out. A few days later, Ji Hoon asked to meet Eun Soo and while she was gone, a fire broke out in her house.
Her mother-in-law then suspected that she and Ji Hoon were actually having an affair and in cahoots about the whole fire. That’s why she blamed Eun Soo for the death of her son and grandson, and that is why she continues to hunt her down. And that is why Eun Soo changed her identity to Park Bok Nyeo.
The family is saddened to hear about Bok Nyeo’s past and the terrible burden she bears. Even Grandpa is affected by the news. Unfortunately Bok Nyeo decides it’s time for her to quit because she told them everything. Hye Gyul takes the news hard and tries to run away from home, wanting to stay with Bok Nyeo. She’s already seen Bok Nyeo as her surrogate mother, which is also painful for Bok Nyeo to bear.
Uh Jin’s mother, whom we finally learn is Mrs. Oh, sees the commotion and proceeds to pity the family. From hating the housekeeper’s arrival to feeling sympathetic and saddened at her departure, she sure is a crazy one. Mrs. Oh then receives a phone call from her husband, Oh Nam Jae’s, producer: Her husband is having an affair. The producer won’t tell her who it’s with (because it’s herself of course) or why she’s revealing it now, but clearly she’s trying to create some trouble for Oh Nam Jae and perhaps pin it on Bok Nyeo.
Now that Bok Nyeo has disappeared, the family struggles to find a new housekeeper that would be a good fit. Do Hyung contacts Sang Chul for compensation, but ends up offering him a job. Thanks to Bok Nyeo’s disturbance he discovered that Sang Chul was a talented architect. At the same time, his old boss offers him a position in the company again. It would be a lower post, but it’s a position nevertheless.
Bok Nyeo contacts Manager Hong and tells her about her Ji Hoon sighting. Manager Hong is aghast – they checked his death certificate! He has to be dead! Bok Nyeo wonders if God let her stay alive for this second chance to kill him. Oh God – I hope she doesn’t really believe this. As she leaves Happy Company, she bumps into Sang Chul. He begs her to stay with the family and allow his children be the reason for her to live. He might appear despicable in her eyes for being an adulterer – though she claims no right to judge him – but hopes that she could look past that for the sake of his kids. Stonily she turns away.
Back at work, Song Hwa isn’t too pleased to hear that Do Hyung has hired Sang Chul and made him the project manager. Do Hyung points out that she doesn’t have to work with him because he’ll pick Sang Chul over her any day. Ouch. He doesn’t mind if they start dating again, as long as they do their work. So Song Hwa has no choice but to relent. She and Sang Chul “reset” their relationship to back when they were just coworkers who respected each other. Forgetting about their romance would probably be easiest for them at work.
The kids are happy to hear that Sang Chul has a job. (He prudently omitted the detail about Song Hwa being his coworker again.) However they still wonder if Do Hyung could possibly be Ji Hoon and worry about Bok Nyeo. And it’s possible. Even though Do Hyung passes himself off as a showy businessman, he remains intrigued about Bok Nyeo, bringing her up during Sang Chul’s presentation on their new project. He keeps prying about Bok Nyeo and her relation to this Ji Hoon, more so than should be allowed for someone considered a stranger.
Sang Chul later receives a call from Detective Lee Hyung Shik – Bok Nyeo’s mysterious stalker! He’s actually the detective who was on the arson case years ago and has been tracking Bok Nyeo ever since. He firmly believes that Bok Nyeo is guilty because she was with Ji Hoon (who’s now dead) and because of her mother-in-law’s testimony. Wow. If that is your undeniable proof that Bok Nyeo is guilty, you are one shitty detective. Sang Chul can’t believe that Bok Nyeo is guilty, which prompts the detective to think that she seduced him. Whaaaaat?! Sang Chul adds that Bok Nyeo attacked a Ji Hoon look-alike, and if they were actually complicit in a crime she wouldn’t have done so.
Meanwhile, Han Gyul and Woo Jae visit Soo Hyuk and see him dealing with his difficult father. Soo Hyuk reluctantly gives up his guitar and amp for his father to sell just so that his father won’t trash his mother’s restaurant. Feeling bad, Han Gyul and Woo Jae arrange for their band to do a small street performance to raise money for Soo Hyuk’s guitar. (A paltry performance of “I Love Rock and Roll” ensues.)
Bok Nyeo needs to know if Do Hyung really is Ji Hoon, so she follows him to the supermarket. He knows she’s there, and presumes that it’s because she wants to apologize. That is true, and she apologizes quite insincerely, but what she really wants is for him to prove he’s not Ji Hoon. Conveniently he did not bring his ID card but left it at home. If she goes home with him, he would be able to show her.
From a distance, Mr. Shin watches the scene unfold with his wife. He’s a bit sad because it seems like he’s “losing” Bok Nyeo to Do Hyung. But he’s also very uneasy. Even without interacting with Do Hyung he can tell the guy is not to be trusted.
Bok Nyeo waits for Do Hyung outside his office building, which enrages Song Hwa. That girl is so nosy. She confronts Bok Nyeo because she thinks that the housekeeper is flirting with Do Hyung now. Even though the real issue at hand has nothing to do with Song Hwa, she feels like it does because she doesn’t want Bok Nyeo messing with another man in her life. The housekeeper indirectly contributed to her break-up with Sang Chul, so she doesn’t want her to ruin her her chances with the boss.
Though Sang Chul is happily surprised to see Bok Nyeo at his office, he tries to convince her that she’s mistaking Do Hyung for someone else. At that moment, Do Hyung whisks her away for their own private little chat. Sang Chul remains quite worried about her and keeps calling Bok Nyeo, which annoys Song Hwa even more. “She may be my housekeeper, but why do you care if I’m so flustered or not?” Sang Chul retorts. “I’d like it if you didn’t speak that way to me. I thought you wanted to reset everything.”
Turns out Bok Nyeo is in danger. Do Hyung takes Bok Nyeo to his dark apartment and sits her down. “Just like you said, I am that person,” he sneers. “Seo Ji Hoon.”
Thoughts and Comments
Well! There goes the suspense! Even though I was pretty sure Do Hyung was Ji Hoon, I was hoping we could draw out the suspense just a little longer. It was quite fun to see Do Hyung toy with everyone by tricking them into thinking he wasn’t Ji Hoon, and yet remain sickeningly fascinated with this “Ji Hoon” that Bok Nyeo hates. Her entire backstory was quite sad to watch and it was made that much more creepy when, as she narrated her tale, we heard her son’s ghostly screams for help and crackling fire in the background.
Because of her heartbreaking backstory it’s impossible to think that she lied about her past. That makes the detective and the mother-in-law even more infuriating. Are they really planning to charge her with murder based on the idea that her flirtatious smile caused the whole murder? That because she has such a beautiful smile, she must have seduced Ji Hoon and she must have murdered her family? It’s really unreasonable, and it makes me hate them even more. When the detective was just a mysterious stalker, I didn’t mind him so much because I didn’t know what his deal was exactly. If he was her in-law, his grudge against Bok Nyeo would be understandable. But he’s just a detective. So now I hate him even more for being incompetent and biased.
These two episodes were quite dark and are taking the drama in a more melodramatic direction. Suspicious Housekeeper was always a strange drama in a comedic way. Now it’s become plain creepy. With the Eun family is happy and reunited, it seems like everyone outside of the family has suddenly become a threat to their happiness. Mrs. Oh, Song Hwa, Ji Hoon, the mother-in-law, and Detective Lee are each obstacles that the family (Bok Nyeo included) must overcome before they can truly be left alone and be happy.