The end is finally here! I figured I’d lump the final two episodes together and just finish off this series. This season of I Need Romance is probably closest to what I expected the series overall to be like: To have the couplings get together way before the last five minutes of the last episode, and to show everyone’s romances underway. It was satisfying to a point, and also strangely… empty.
Though Joo Yeon has broken up with Tae Yoon, she can’t find a way to go back to Joo Wan yet. I mean, what would she even say?
Joo Wan’s radio program accepts a lot of texts from listeners about their own love problems. He finds an interesting one from a woman who wonders if telling the guy she used to live with that she cleaned his room would compel him to come back to her. Hah! Sounds a lot like Joo Yeon, who is caring for his plants and misses Joo Wan’s home cooking. Joo Wan says there’s no way for the guy to come back to the girl just because of that. Then he gets a text message for Joo Yeon: “I broke up with Tae Yoon.” Well now…
She doesn’t say “I love you” though, which would have been the clincher to get Joo Wan back in her house and into her arms.
Joo Yeon isn’t exactly comfortable with saying those three words yet, and we jump to a conversation at work where she asks her coworkers the last time they said “I love you” and meant it. Min Jung thinks Joo Yeon is talking about Director Kang but Joo Yeon announces that they broke up, without naming him specifically in front of the juniors, of course. Min Jung is astonished that Joo Yeon holds up so well after a break up, but it was really easy. First of all, Joo Yeon recognizes the irony in love just like Justin Timberlake did. What her ex-boyfriend Jung Ho said to her is what Joo Yeon now says to Tae Yoon. And Tae Yoon doesn’t even try to stop her from leaving, which is exactly what she did with Jung Ho. It’s pretty clear that Joo Yeon and Tae Yoon are loving each other too rationally, and that limits the amount of feelings that they have for each other no matter how much they claim to really like each other. Joo Yeon wants to love like Se Ryung loves Tae Yoon, and not run away from relationships to find another that’s “easier” to deal with.
Back to the team discussion about “I love you.” Hee Jae notes that all relationships seem to be interconnected by some karmic force. In her last relationship she was doing all the giving, and now in her new one (with Woo Young) she’s doing all the receiving. She finds herself that much more attracted to Woo Young, who then becomes concerned that she only likes him because he provides for her materially. Ha! And then Hee Jae goes on to say that she’s not even sure if they are a couple or not! Oh man, how could you say that right in front of him?!
Not wanting to be misunderstood as a coward, Woo Young grabs Hee Jae’s hand and announces to his bosses that he’s dating Hee Jae. And that he was planning to say “I love you” during a weekend trip to a cottage, so they better not have work this weekend! SO AWKWARD!! But it’s really cute too, because Woo Young then pretends he got a call and leaves.
Min Jung tries to find out who Joo Yeon wants to say “I love you” to, but Joo Yeon clams up. Eventually though, Joo Yeon asks if they could both be friends. Not just co-worker-acquaintances, but real friends, because she realizes that the both of them could be really close. Min Jung replies that she always thought of Joo Yeon as a friend from the moment Joo Yeon offered to lend an ear via text. Truthfully that was the moment when Joo Wan encouraged her to do and sent the text for her, but it worked out for the best for both of them.
Min Jung then shows Joo Yeon something really amusing. She logs into the CCTV set up in Min Suk’s home from her phone, and the two of them watch as Min Suk coos over the fake baby and changes its diaper. Seriously, no matter what the guy says he’s totally ready for fatherhood. The question is, is he ready for two babies?
Joo Yeon drives to the hotel where Joo Wan is staying with some of his belongings. She barely gets out her car when she starts doubting the feasibility of their relationship. There’s the six-year age gap, their mothers would not be pleased about their relationship, and she needs to find someone she can settle down with.
At that moment, Joo Wan drives up and he recognizes her car even though she tries to hide in the driver’s seat. Haha. He texts her his room number and tells her to think carefully – since she’s made it this far, she ought to come see him or risk never seeing him again. Joo Yeon finally makes her way to his hotel room, which looks more like a loft apartment. She gives him back his stuff, and he then closes the door on her. Hah! That’ll teach her!
Thankfully she isn’t deterred and rings the doorbell again. She didn’t come just to give him back his stuff! But Joo Wan stops her from entering. If she wants to talk, they can talk right out here by the door. Okay then. Joo Yeon starts off saying that she has a lot to think about now that she’s realized she likes him. Could Joo Wan possibly move back in with her and then they can figure it out from there? Joo Wan flatly rejects her. He doesn’t want to be seen as Sweet Potato anymore, but as a man. And if she’s going to come up with a thousand excuses on why they can’t be together then she ought to never come back. He would do anything for her – but she has to have the courage to tell him that she loves him back.
Min Jung catches Min Suk at the supermarket, strolling around the fake baby. She’s super embarrassed but he’s all, “You didn’t tell me you were coming home so what was I going to do with it? I can’t leave it at home alone!” It’s just a doll but he’s taking his job very seriously! He can’t believe Min Jung isn’t being serious about caring for the baby, and when he discovers that she doesn’t have any family to help her out with caring for the baby, it makes him more reluctant to leave. That is… until she breaks the news that it’s twins. Cue freak out session!
Joo Yeon returns to a very cold home and discovers that the furnace in Joo Wan’s attic room is off. She texts him, asking how to add coal to the furnace since she had forgotten how to do it. I guess she’s used to Joo Wan doing it for her, but it’s a bit unbelievable she forgot how to do it herself after living alone for so long. Joo Wan worries that she won’t light the furnace properly and won’t air out the room.
When he doesn’t hear back from her after a while, he worries that Joo Yeon may have hurt herself or breathed in toxic fumes. He hurries to her house, only to find it empty. Where is she?! Why, at a nearby sauna of course.
Joo Yeon escaped to the public sauna after she realized that it takes forever to heat up the house with a coal furnace. Not wanting to freeze to death at home, she decided to stay overnight at the sauna. He hints that his hotel room is available, but only if she says “I love you.” Pfft. Joo Yeon feigns sleep instead of saying that. He gives up and scooches close to her, offering his arm as a pillow. He says he loves her again, and will give her another chance to come back to him if she visits this weekend. That’s a comfort to Joo Yeon, whose heart also flutters at the proximity of Joo Wan’s body.
Back at work, Joo Yeon and Tae Yoon learn that Se Ryung has been talking to another home shopping network about possibly creating another segment similar to the one she has now. Joo Yeon and her team then take Se Ryung out for lunch to fish for information. They’re clearly edgy and eager to please Se Ryung because they don’t want her to leave.
They finally ask her bluntly if she’s been talking to another company and why she hasn’t told them. Se Ryung didn’t think it was their business to know. Joo Yeon and Min Jung outright offer to match whatever their rival is offering in order to keep Se Ryung, but it turns out to be a lot of money. Joo Yeon then asks for a private chat over afternoon cocktails.
It’s over drinks that Se Ryung points out the fault in Joo Yeon’s questions. She and her team are assuming that Se Ryung is leaving them, when all she did was talk to their rivals. Joo Yeon’s teammates are already treating Se Ryung as if she were a traitor when nothing happened yet. Se Ryung isn’t leaving Joo Yeon’s team, so they ought to give her some credit for that.
Feeling much more relieved, Joo Yeon then discovers Hee Jae and Woo Young talking in their team’s group chat on Kakao Talk. Hee Jae and Woo Young are discussing where to go for the weekend, thinking that it was a private chat. It’s only when Min Jung and Joo Yeon jump in with suggestions that the two juniors turn beet red out of embarrassment. Joo Yeon even shows the chat to Se Ryung for amusement when suddenly Joo Wan texts about meeting on Saturday. Suspicious, Se Ryung demands details on the latest of Joo Yeon’s love life.
It’s finally the weekend and Hee Jae and Woo Young go on their trip to the countryside. He does an elaborate scheme of trying to find his phone just to show her that he now labels her as “My Girlfriend” on his phone. The two settle into a vacation home rental and eat some home-cooked dishes that Hee Jae prepared. As for entertainment? It’s Hee Jae on the ukelele! Okay. They’re cute. Whatever. Let’s move on to the more important stuff.
Joo Yeon heads to Joo Wan’s hotel that weekend. She’s finally made her decision. The first thing she says to him is, “I love you.” She’s finally said it. And with that they hug, and he kisses her passionately.
They spend the night together (eeeeeee!!!!!) and end up talking about their likes and dislikes. Joo Yeon likes being hungry after sex, and doing it while it’s raining. Joo Wan likes doing it while it’s snowing. Joo Yeon doesn’t like men who nag or do over-the-top romantic gestures on holidays, which is exactly what Joo Wan is. As for him, he hates messy women who can’t cook, which is exactly what Joo Yeon is.
Hmmm… and with that, the bickering has begun.
Episode 16: ‘I Love You’ Means…
Let’s jump back in time a bit to when the team goes out to a cafe, and Min Jung and Hee Jae find themselves supremely attracted to their hot waiter. The two ladies fantasize about the perfect man and the small things that make him attractive, like reversing a car or his muscular arms.
It’s these details that come back to Hee Jae and Joo Yeon now that they have men to admire respectively. Joo Yeon finds herself so entranced with how handsome Joo Wan is that she can barely eat. The only curse behind having such a handsome famous boyfriend is that he has a lot of young, female fans.
It’s Se Ryung who brings this little fact to Joo Yeon’s attention since Joo Wan so skillfully hides his popularity with women from Joo Yeon. She grows worried, now insecure over why Joo Wan likes her so much. That evening Joo Yeon watches her man interview a pair of musicians who are young gals with crushes on him. Joo Yeon is initially jealous, but suddenly Joo Wan announces that he has a girlfriend on air, effectively ruining those girls’ dreams of ever being with him. He gives a little shoutout – “Are you listening Shing-Shing? I love you.” – and suddenly everything is right in the world again.
Joo Yeon waits for him outside the house after his show ends, excited to see him after missing him. She asks why he likes her again, and he senses her insecurities. But Joo Wan reassures her that she has nothing to worry about, and is kind of glad that she does feel a little nervous about how trustworthy their love is. It’s a sign that she truly does like him a lot.
The two return to their peaceful cohabitation except now it’s awkward what to do at night. Joo Yeon initially plays coy and says she’ll be going to bed in her room, prompting Joo Wan to ask if he should come to her room. At first, Joo Yeon offers to go to his but then realizes that she’s made a successful career in enticing people to buy from her. So she decides to play a game and tells Joo Wan, “Why do you want to come to my room? Do you have something to tell me?”
It ends up totally not working in her favor because Joo Wan can see through her games and just doesn’t respond to her. She presses on: “What is it about? I’m going to bed now so you better tell me now before I sleep!” But no response. Finally she says, “Giraffe misses you.”
That gets Joo Wan to show up in her room but he talks only to Giraffe. Seeing her pout, he offers to kiss her. If she doesn’t like it, she can send him back to his room. Of course Joo Yeon loves the kiss, and he then gently scolds her for playing games. Playing games with words can lead to more misunderstandings later because he may not always know what she wants. Even though I bet he’ll always know what she wants. So with that he spends the night in her room.
The next day at work the girls – Hee Jae, Min Jung, Se Ryung, and Joo Yeon – discuss women making the first move. Some are comfortable with it because they’re aware that they might get rejected once in a while, and are OK with that. And then there are certain situations where it’s a bit weird for the woman to proposition something first – such as a new sex position or where to have sex. Hee Jae admits to wanting to try doing it while being tied up once, and that she finds Woo Young’s habit of doing it in the dark a bit bothersome. The other girls giggle at this personal revelation, and its made worse when Woo Young suddenly arrives in the middle of their gab-fest!
Embarrassed, Hee Jae immediately runs to her desk but she doesn’t escape the teasing that ensues. Se Ryung and Min Jung tell Woo Young what Hee Jae likes during sex, which makes him turn beet red and angry with Hee Jae. He doesn’t like her telling others about their sex life because it is highly personal. Would she like it if he told others about them too? No, so she better not do it again!
Meanwhile, Min Suk sits at home dreading the idea of twins – it’s twice the work and twice the poop! Despite his fears he ends up on a shopping spree fit for twins, and is himself shocked at how much he bought. Strollers, baby carriers, toys, baby walkers… Min Jung is touched by all this. She knows that he doesn’t want to get married, and doesn’t want to either, but suggests that perhaps they raise the kids together. And if Min Suk wants to leave, then he can and she won’t stop him. Min Jung even gives him her pregnancy journal so that he can decide whether he really wants to be around for the twins. Spoiler alert: He does.
One evening, Hee Jae has something to tell Woo Young but can’t vocalize it. So she does it through Joo Wan’s radio segment by sending in her issue in the form of a text. The news? She wants to travel. By herself. She’s spent all her life saving money to the point that she has six bank accounts, but has no idea what to do with that money. Traveling abroad for a year has become her dream, but she worries that her boyfriend would not support her for this since they just started dating.
And too right he isn’t. Woo Young is absolutely pissed that she suddenly wants to go off on her own. If she wants to leave that badly then they’ll have to break up. Guess he’s that insecure about their relationship, and hypocritical for telling her to go find her dream but won’t let her go.
Back at home, Joo Yeon tries cooking for the first time since she wants to do something for her “perfect man.” It’s a lot more difficult than she thought though, and Joo Wan comes home surprised that she hasn’t caused any cooking accidents just yet. When it’s time for a taste test it’s a total disaster. Joo Wan has criticism after criticism, but once he sees Joo Yeon’s pouting face he stops himself and gives her a score: 31 out of a 100. LOL!
After a dinner of sorts, Joo Yeon states that she’ll be sleeping in his room. Joo Wan doesn’t really want her too because they both need a break from each other (and presumably sex) every so often. Oh yeah? Well then. Joo Yeon removes her bath robe to unveil a skimpy leopard print lingerie set underneath. She pushes him against the wall and teases him with a few brushes against the lips. Yunno, the way she seduces people normally. Can he resist her now?
Dayum that was a fine scene that sizzled with chemistry.
At work, Tae Yoon convinces Director Yoon to “protect” Min Jung’s job despite her marital status. It’s to Joo Yeon and Min Jung’s surprise that they got Tae Yoon’s support since he seemed ready to have Joo Yeon fire her Team Leader. The girls promise Director Yoon that they will perform well despite her pregnancy, and then they learn Tae Yoon is leaving for Hong Kong. Welp! He’s moving up in the world, going there to head the Global Business Department.
Before Hee Jae can announce her resignation, Woo Young suddenly grabs her hand and takes her on a shopping spree in the middle of the day. He purchases her luggage, a tablet, a camera all on a 12-month installment plan. That way every time she uses those items she’ll remember that she has a boyfriend back home paying it all off. Guilt tactics! Passive aggressiveness! Whatever you call it, it works and Hee Jae tells him she loves him. But he’s still acting all grumpy and rejecting her hugs because he’s angry at her for leaving.
Finally Hee Jae tells Min Jung and Joo Yeon that she’s resigning. Before Min Jung can protest further she has to go for a doctor’s appointment for a sonogram (with Min Suk!). Joo Yeon is a bit disappointed to see Hee Jae leave when she has so much potential to grow in the company and rise up the ranks. However she gives her blessings to leave because it’s something she regretted herself. Hee Jae’s in her twenties, and she needs to figure out what she likes and doesn’t like. If she doesn’t, she might end up in the same pitfalls that Joo Yeon fell into.
With her boss’ blessing, Hee Jae texts Woo Young that she can finally go have fun, knowing that she has a boyfriend back at home who’s locked her down on a 12-month payment plan. She asks if he wants to spend the night together… which leads to Min Jung saying that they should turn in a receipt so they could expense it. EEEK! They used the team chat room on Kakao Talk again! Those two really need to learn how to use private chats.
On her way home, Joo Yeon calls Tae Yoon to wish him good luck on his trip. They’re back to their easygoing, work relationship so it’s clear that this is best for both of them. He then gets a surprise visit from Se Ryung right before he enters the security area. Se Ryung believes that they have one more chance left in both of them to make their relationship work. She hands back the necklace he gave her and tells him to put the necklace back on her when he comes back and is ready to start again with her. And she walks away without a look back. I’m kind of proud of her.
And then we see each couple saying their “I love you’s”: Hee Jae says it to Woo Young just before she boards her plane; Joo Yeon says it to Joo Wan, and Min Suk says it to his two babies in Min Jung’s tummy. With each “I love you,” they make a promise to love the other unconditionally, to experience a new world through their eyes, to cherish the present and to make new memories every day.
Thoughts and Comments:
I’m going to be honest. The last episode was a drawn out episode of good feelings and tying up loose ends. Satisfying, but it doesn’t fill my heart with emotions like the previous episodes did.
I really enjoyed this drama, and I have to give most of the credit to Kim So Yeon and Sung Joon. The two of them had amazing chemistry that really made me believe in their romance, and believe their progression from childhood friends to lovers. I felt like these roles came very naturally to the both of them, and if the roles don’t reflect their real personalities then they’re mighty hell good actors. I wasn’t even bothered by the age difference because even though it was apparent (she does look older than him) it wasn’t an unbelievable romance, unlike Lee Beom Soo and Yoona’s in The Prime Minister and I with their 20-year age gap and that slight sense of weirdness that they’re not completely good matches.
What I really liked about this drama was that I could identify with each of the female characters. There were certain aspects about Hee Jae’s life that I could relate to, and then other aspects with Joo Yeon’s that I could empathize with easily. It’s not to say that I was in the same situations, but I could understand the overall emotional state that they were in. It really helped me become engrossed with the drama. But once Hee Jae changed and started dating Woo Young, she became someone I really disliked watching. I didn’t like her relationship with Woo Young, and I didn’t like how she suddenly made it her dream to travel. I felt that that plot twist was too sudden to happen only in the last episode. With Min Jung and Joo Yeon they had more time to grow and think about their decisions before making them. Hee Jae’s decision was too quick for me to understand.
At the same time, Tae Yoon became an irritating character for his arrogance about relationships. It feels like he thinks he’s so entitled to have a girlfriend who will serve his every need and will make his life easier. He doesn’t seem to appreciate the women in his life for who they are and that’s why he tries to seek an easier option. He wants to be the perfect boyfriend but has no idea on how to be one. It’s one of the sad and frustrating things about him. On the other hand Min Suk grows up from an irresponsible serial dater to a man who actually has a great sense of responsibility but doesn’t always show it. He went from being self-centered to being more giving.
As I like to say, Hee Jae’s chipmunk smile and Tae Yoon’s big chin became far more irritating as their characters became more aggravating.
I’m a little surprised that this drama ended without the women together hanging out. The first two seasons emphasized the friendships of the women first, and then their romance. This season focused more on the women leading separate lives and love lives. I guess it’s more difficult to be really close friends with co-workers, but I thought that it’d be nice to see Joo Yeon and Se Ryung hanging out with Min Jung again, or everyone eating together with their significant others. Instead this drama seemed to highlight more on the theme of independence, of being able to do things by yourself and loving yourself first before opening up to another person. I truly agree that it is an important first step in any relationship, so it’s interesting that we kind of start at the beginning with this third season. Looking back, the other two seasons had the main female lead in a dilemma between two men. It was about trust and timing for those gals. In this case, I feel like Joo Yeon was on a journey of knowing herself. It wasn’t so much timing or trust issues as it was getting in touch with her more innocent-like self and finding what it is that she really wants in life. All the women in this drama eventually realized what it was that they want in life. It wasn’t so much about finding the perfect man for them.
And that’s probably the lesson I’ll take away from this series. To know thyself is far more important than getting started on a life of domestic happiness that society pressures you to embark upon once you’re in your twenties.
Verdict: 8/10 – solid drama, great cast, and lovable Kim So Yeon. What’s not to like?