I Need Romance 3: Episode 2

A solid follow-up to the first episode, I find myself falling deeper into the spell of this drama. It helps that Kim So Yeon and Sung Joon are so charismatic and make their relationship really believable. I can buy that Joo Wan has had a crush on her since forever, and I can buy that Joo Yeon has been hardened by life experiences. This episode also set up a very interesting situation where the female lead and her antagonist just might end up becoming friends by the end.

Episode 2: Nobody Loves Me

 

We start off with a photo shoot and interview for Joo Wan as the reporter asks how he got into music. He reveals that he immigrated to the States when he was nine and spent his formative years listening to a lot of music. The reason being that Joo Yeon (whom he doesn’t name) had introduced him to expressing feelings in music, and ever since then he’s been interested in music.

And we’re back to that night at the party, where Joo Yeon leaves Se Ryung and Joo Wan after sarcastically wishing them happiness. Joo Wan stops her – did Se Ryung do something to her to make her so bitter? Joo Yeon, to her credit, doesn’t say anything but flirtatiously asks if Joo Wan wants to leave with her. Maybe then she’ll tell him why she’s such a twisted person. He doesn’t bite and she leaves.

 

When he discovers that Joo Yeon is his Shing-Shing, he flashes back to when he was nine. He arrived at her doorstep crying his soul out because he was leaving for the States permanently. He gives her an old tooth-like stone (or it could be an old tooth) because he has nothing else to give her. Aww… Joo Yeon calms him down and tells him that if he’s feeling sad, the best thing he can do is try to express what he really feels. Joo Wan: “I’m going to miss you Shing-Shing. I promise I’m going to come back.” Joo Yeon gives a smile that an older girl would give in response to the silly promises of a young boy.

 

Joo Wan taxis over to Joo Yeon’s old house and calls her, but this older Joo Yeon is definitely not happy to hear from him. After yelling at his ear she hangs up and orders for more soju from the ahjumma at the bar down the street. Joo Wan overhears her negotiating for just one more bottle of soju and decides to join her. She treats him a little more nicely, not realizing that the Sweet Potato she spoke to earlier is the same Allen Joo sitting down in front of her. In fact, she proclaims to be his big fan even though she only learned about him earlier that day.

He asks if she’s always been this mean, based on her treatment of Se Ryung. She admits she wasn’t born this way but it’s no use to be nice to anyone. No one loves her and she knows that. But it’s okay because everyone is alone in the end and she doesn’t mind that. While she doesn’t sound too convinced when she says that, she believes that she really cannot rely on anyone else except herself. And with that, she pays the bill and leaves.

Joo Wan follows her home just to make sure she gets in safely. She drunkenly climbs up the steps and even drops her bag, citing that event as “nothing ever goes her way, ever”-event. When she gets to the door she huddles right up to the keypad and looks around suspiciously. “I can’t let anyone see these numbers!” she announces to no one in particular before punching in her code. “2918!” HAH! What a joke! Of course Joo Wan hears and once she locks the door he tries the code to see if it’s really the right one. It is. Then he leaves her for the night.

 

Joo Yeon wallows in her empty home, haunted by her memories of Jung Ho when he promised to be with her forever so that she would never have to fill up her goblet of promise rings, a symbol of broken relationships. Thankfully, her team and best friends arrive with wine and gifts to cheer her up. And to sleep over since it’s so late they can’t get home over public transportation.

Thankfully, she lets them in!

 

It’s sleepover time! The girls all dress in pajamas that they had sold out last year while Woo Young dons one of Joo Yeon’s ex-boyfriend’s pajamas. He even ties his hair up into a Joseon-like top knot. Hee Jae has the courage to ask about Joo Yeon’s break up: They all heard rumors that Jung Ho had another woman on the side. Joo Yeon suspects it might be Se Ryung because she saw her wearing the two-ring necklace, but she doesn’t gossip about her broken relationship with them. What’s past is past, and now she’s a free woman.

Speaking of “free women” Min Jung launches into her rendezvous with Mr. Design Hotel. After flirtatious texting she actually met up with him. She lied about her age, claiming to be nine years younger, and her name, pretending that she’s Lee Woo Yang. Even though it seems a bit dangerous to meet a stranger for a one-night stand, Min Jung has definitely done her research on the guy for the past six months. He’s no lackadaisical bum, and she’s a cautious but free-wheeling spirit.

 

The following morning, Se Ryung meets Joo Wan for breakfast. He’s curious as to why Se Ryung seems to like Joo Yeon when it’s clear that they don’t get along. Se Ryung honestly admits that she stole Joo Yeon’s first love, and so Joo Yeon’s distance is justified. In fact, she admires Joo Yeon for not easily spilling about this betrayal because Joo Yeon could have easily ruined her chances with every other guy but chose not to. She’s also scared of her former friend because she never got the chance to properly apologize to Joo Yeon. Joo Yeon just cut Se Ryung completely from her life.

 

At work, a huge group of employees huddle around a screen that announces the winners of the “New Business Plan” contest. Another team wins first place, while Joo Yeon’s team didn’t rank at all. Because of her huge pride, Joo Yeon belittles the winning team for not thinking far ahead enough into the company’s path and future fashion trends. By belittling the winning team, she also belittles Tae Yoon because he was the one judging the contest. He calls her to a separate room (as if he’s going to yell at her) and proceeds to explain why her team didn’t win. Even though her idea was the best, it lacked that special something that would have tied it all up together: a style director. A famous style director who could be his/her own brand set up through a home shopping network. It fires up Joo Yeon’s cylinders and her team is back to the grind: They’re going to track down every possible style director – even Oh Se Ryung – and get him/her to work with them.

 

Joo Yeon and Min Jung are tough to please, leaving Woo Young and Hee Jae with little sleep. Hee Jae’s boyfriend is understanding and gives her a foot massage, and she encourages him to pass his civil service exam soon so that they can marry and she doesn’t have to work so hard. For some reason, you get this feeling that this is not going to happen based on her boyfriend’s kind smile but silent response.

Tae Yoon rewards Joo Yeon’s team with a swanky new office that looks better than the winning team’s new office. But victory and happiness is short-lived as Woo Young bursts in announcing that Jung Ho just quit as PD.

 

Joo Yeon barges into his home, angry that he left just because they broke up. Can’t he think of the others on the team? Unfortunately he can’t. He feels uncomfortable around her even though she’s made every effort to greet him and treat him like another coworker. He’s unable to just “get over it” and heartlessly act like nothing happened like she can. Joo Yeon is hurt. Who says she’s not hurting as well?

Suddenly, Se Ryung appears in the house. She was driven over by Joo Wan, and greets Jung Ho familiarly. Joo Yeon notices the necklace again and goes right up to her. “Was it you again?” she asks. Se Ryung replies honestly, “Yes. It’s me again this time.”

Joo Yeon grabs the necklace and throws it out the door, where Joo Wan is outside. It’s not so much about Jung Ho’s betrayal that hurts her now but the fact that it’s Se Ryung who’s taken her man. We flashback to high school when the both of them were the best of friends. Even then Se Ryung was already a bit of a serial dater, having kissed many guys while Joo Yeon has been waiting for the perfect guy, like her plaster bust of a Grecian model. The two went on adventures all the time and trusted each other. But that all broke down when Se Ryung betrayed her. Se Ryung made Joo Yeon into the type of person who doesn’t believe in friendship anymore.

 

Joo Yeon slaps Se Ryung. Damn, that left a mark. Se Ryung, unable to handle that indignity, slaps her back. Joo Yeon slaps her back, Se Ryung slaps her again. And then Joo Yeon grabs Se Ryung by the hair: The cat-fight has begun.

 

It takes all the strength of Jung Ho and Joo Wan to keep them away from each other, with Joo Wan eventually able to drag Joo Yeon outside. He’s a bit understanding toward why they fought as it’s obvious there was some cheating going on, but wonders if the slaps really were necessary. All Joo Yeon can think of is whether Se Ryung managed to land an extra slap on her or not. She can’t let Se Ryung win this time!

She spots Joo Wan’s car parked outside, and thinking that it’s Se Ryung’s, kicks off the driver’s side view mirror. Hah! Joo Wan freaks out and tackles her before she can kick off the passenger’s side one. It’s not Se Ryung’s car! It’s his car! He threatens to get the authorities involved for her attack on his car, but she then points out her scraped palm. She got hurt too, so they’re both going to be at fault. Exasperated, Joo Wan demands her car keys and forces her to get in. The whole Se Ryung-incident forgotten, Joo Yeon hilariously fears that they’re going to the police station.

 

Instead, Joo Wan takes her to a pharmacy so that they can get some antiseptic and bandages. Joo Yeon is surprised by his thoughtfulness, until she is snapped back to reality when he tells her to pay. After all, he was told many years ago that the one who got hurt should pay for the medications. A flashback to when he was a rambunctious boy with many scrapes reveals that Joo Yeon told him that every time she spent her allowance on his bandages.

As Joo Wan treats her wound, she grimaces rather than admitting it stings. She also doesn’t admit that her heart is in pain, rationalizing that the whole relationship was over anyways. Joo Wan tells her about when he was younger, a girl who treated his wounds would tell him to be honest if he was in pain because a real man would admit to his pains rather than mask it. Because of that, he learned to always be honest. It’s surprising that even though Joo Yeon hears this story, she doesn’t recognize him as Sweet Potato.

 

She hands him her number so that he can text her his bank account, and she can wire money to fix his car. He stops her from leaving. He wants to go somewhere with her – a hotel. Joo Yeon is aghast, and Joo Wan finds it funny that her thoughts automatically go to the possibility of sex. He pretends that is the case, and she laughs at his attempt at flirting with her. In her eyes, it probably looks like he wants to revenge-sleep with her since his “girlfriend” Se Ryung took Jung Ho away. Joo Wan smiles: “What if I am coming on to you? Would you fall for it?”

Comments:

Based on the first shot or the voice over of the first episode, I associate that particular person to who the main character is, who we should follow, and who we should expect the most growth from. It’s just a mind association thing, but it’s interesting that the first two episodes are launched with a focus on Joo Wan’s voice over. It makes it seem like he’s the main character and the one who’s finding the romance rather than Joo Yeon. But that is clearly not the case because it’s Joo Yeon’s romance that is the subject of the drama and Joo Wan is the one changing her life. It’s Joo Yeon who’s going to undergo the most change, and not Joo Wan so much. So it’s interesting to see Joo Yeon’s romance play out in the eyes of another person. Though we get some voiceovers from Joo Yeon, she’s not the first one we hear. Instead, she voices about her past experiences, while Joo Wan voices about the present and future. It feels like Joo Wan is telling the story to show the viewers how he plans on changing Joo Yeon’s life. He questions why Joo Yeon has changed so much, and comments on his interactions with her, which makes him feel present and relatable. That’s a refreshing change for the drama since the previous two seasons had the main leads constantly wax on about their past rather than think about the future.

It’s equally refreshing to see a female antagonist be so upfront and uncompromising about who she is when she’s someone you should hate. She’s honest about her cheating and scrupulous ways, and she’s not going to back down. She’s just another viewpoint on romance that could easily fit in with Joo Yeon’s friends. While she appears similar to Min Jung, Min Jung’s point of view is she views sex as a temporary pleasure, and doesn’t believe in love. Se Ryung doesn’t seem to believe in love either, but it sounds like she doesn’t just steal a guy for sex. She clearly provides an emotional fulfillment to Jung Ho that Joo Yeon doesn’t give, and her relationships now seem to be founded on the emotional satisfaction rather than the physical. I think it’ll be very interesting to watch how Joo Yeon will have repair two relationships from her past, both on love and friendship. This hasn’t really happened before, as the female lead and the female antagonist have never really been friends before, and only became friends because they’re both mature enough to accept each other or they just remain hating each other.

The flashback on the girls in high school was sufficient enough to set up their friendship but I am a little disappointed that they didn’t use the younger actress who plays Kim So Yeon in the middle school scenes. If the production could find a child actress to play her in between years, was it really necessary to get Kim So Yeon and Wang Ji Won in wigs to play their high school selves?

And finally, I really like the OST. I’ve always liked the I Need Romance OSTs but this one went for the French pop song and Lee Hyo Ri, and has a very mature and classy vibe. I don’t even mind if they keep using two songs over and over again, because they seem to fit every situation anyways.

Here’s to the next week!

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