The wait between episode 8 and 9 felt extraordinarily long, likely caused by the previous episode ending on an adrenaline pumping note. Episode 9 of Playful Kiss (Mischievous Kiss) continues to take purposeful strides forward in the lives of Seung Jo and Ha Ni, both as individuals and as a couple-in-the-making.
As this point, PK isn’t going to be gaining an onslaught of new viewers, but I bet money no one currently watching is getting bored and ready to drop it. PK has turned out to be a drama that appeals strongly to certain viewers, and that’s about it.
Who would have thought PK would turn out to be neither mockworthy (ala Boys Before Flowers), nor a giddy unexpected phenom (like Goong). Rather, PK is the straight man in the manga-adaptation genre, a charmingly whimsical yet true-to-life little love story. And the straight man more often than not is overlooked as the least interesting character.
Episode 9 Recap:
Seung Jo and Ha Ni are in the midst of evading the gangsters, each of whom clearly must have a gimpy foot because our cute kids are not so much running as they are filming a slo-mo shampoo commercial. But they get away, and seek refuge in a mini-mart while the gangsters look elsewhere.
After calming down and quenching their thirst, Seung Jo thanks Ha Ni again for getting him into yet another thrillingly unexpected shenanigan. Ha Ni wonders whether Seung Jo knew he was being followed, and Seung Jo replies that the weird thing would be if he didn’t know he was being followed by Ha Ni. The boy definitely has a Ha Ni-dar, he just doesn’t want to acknowledge it yet.
Ha Ni sadly notes that if Seung Jo liked Hye Ra, then there is nothing she can do to stop it. An expression of “eh, no” flits over Seung Jo’s face, then he changes the subject and asks Ha Ni where she wants to go next. Ha Ni is stunned and thrilled that it appears Seung Jo wants to hang out with her, like, on a date. Omo, she must not be very creative, or else her little mind doesn’t turn that fast, because they end up rowing in a cheesy boat on a little lake.
Ha Ni is all basking in her own brand of happiness, when Seung Jo, as usual, deflates her grand romantic daydreams. Ha Ni notes that it appears that only families are on the lake, and they are the only “couple”, wherein Seung Jo tells her that the lake has a legend that any couple who comes to it will break up in 6 months. But because they aren’t dating, Ha Ni shouldn’t care.
Oh, but Ha Ni does care, and she immediately stands up and tells Seung Jo they have to get off the lake right away. If her intention was to swim to shore, then she succeeded because her upright position causes the boat to sway and she pitches right into the lake. Seung Jo grabs her arm as she falls and he take a nose-dive right after her.
They sit by the lake and dry off, as Seung Jo gets them some food and a change of clothes. Seung Jo is as considerate under these circumstances as he’s likely able to be, as we know he wasn’t born with a solicitous bone in his body. Maybe there is a solicitous curl in his newly permed hair?
Either Seung Jo is completely oblivious, or he doesn’t give a flying fig (likely the latter), but he brought back infamous Korean couple t-shirts as their change of clothes. He tells her it’s just cheap clothes he bought at the roadside stall, but to Ha Ni it’s akin to solid gold threads. Niiiice, and then Seung Jo gives her a burger and Ha Ni is about thiclose to expiring on the spot from happiness.
As they sit and eat the hamburger, waiting for their clothes to dry, Ha Ni considers this the best meal she’s ever had in her entire life. Ha Ni queries why Seung Jo grabbed her hand instead of Hye Ra, and is told that she was standing closer to him. Seriously, you’re a genius and this is the best lame excuse you can come up with?
She apologizes for yet again causing trouble. Strangely, Seung Jo doesn’t seem upset at all. As someone who has always lived an uneventful life until he met her, she has led him into a completely different world. For Seung Jo, this is all so unexpected, and he compares it trying to solve a math problem. Not just any math problem, it’s like it was created just for Seung Jo, and it’s his responsibility to solve it. [What did I say earlier about Seung Jo coming to grips with Ha Ni being his own personal burden!]
Ha Ni wonders if Seung Jo’s math problem analogy is referring to her, she really is so very dim. Initially, Seung Jo tried to evade the problem, but that didn’t work. If there isn’t something fundamentally wrong about the problem, then there must be a solution, and he will find it. Ah, Seung Jo is an empiricist, and now he is determine to face it head on.
Ha Ni’s fanciful mind takes a great leap and thinks that he is proposing to her! Seung Jo wonders how Ha Ni can possibly reach this preposterous conclusion. He says that he merely doesn’t dislike her. Being with her is hard, but he doesn’t hate it. Ha Ni grabs his arm for a side hug, and tells him that she has liked him since their first year in high school, and always thought he disliked her.
She is gloriously happy, and Seung Jo looks at this little slip of a girl grabbing his arm and gives an unseen smile at her (the smile comes at the very moment after Ha Ni says that she’s liked only him since high school). Ha Ni doesn’t know the classic philosophers, she can’t cook, and she’s not a model student. But she promises to continue trying hard. Seung Jo says he’s looking forward to her trying to become smarter because of him. He tells her the next goal to prove herself should be the upcoming midterm exams.
Seung Jo walks Ha Ni back to the restaurant. He asks her how the living arrangement is working out. Ha Ni says it’s livable, especially since its only temporary until their new house is built. She then wonders if what happened today is okay for Hye Ra, since she was originally out with Seung Jo. Heh, Mr. Poker Face throws the question back at her, wasn’t Ha Ni originally out with tennis sunbae? Oh, teeming jealousy, thy name is Seung Jo.
Tennis sunbae and Hye Ra are having an uncomfortable dinner together. Poor besotted tennis sunbae works up the courage to tell Hye Ra his feelings. He tells her that he is lacking in many ways, and Hye Ra uses that opportunity to misinterpret “lacking” to mean he’s still hungry. She pushes her food to him. He tries again to tell her he can’t stop thinking about her, but she just firmly tells him she wants to leave because she has a headache. I can’t say she’s being bitchy, as she is cordial yet coolly distant to him during this speech.
Ha Ni’s dad tells her there is some delay and difficulty in the construction of their new house. Ha Ni’s two friends show up at the restaurant and enjoy a meal prepared by Joon Gu and chat with him. They tell him that his forwardness with Ha Ni turns her off, and that the reason she is obsessed with Seung Jo is because he is so cold to her.
Tennis sunbae has tons of cell phone pics of Hye Ra, and he shows them to Ha Ni. She asks how yesterday’s date for them went, and is told they just had dinner and then Hye Ra went home. Tennis sunbae wanted to confess his feelings, but each time he sees Hye Ra his mind goes blank.
Tennis sunbae asks Ha Ni if she confessed her feelings to Seung Jo, and is told she did it through a letter. He wants to write Hye Ra a letter, and Ha Ni hurriedly tells him not to. Since Hye Ra is the female Seung Jo, Ha Ni is picturing the grading of the letter fiasco to befall tennis sunbae.
Ha Ni helps tennis sunbae refine his technique for wooing Hye Ra. She literally has him re-enacting the scene where Seung Jo kisses her after the school graduation, including a play-by-play where they each play the kisser and the kissee. The sequence is hilarious! Of course, other tennis club members come by and witness the tutoring out of context and mistakenly think Ha Ni and tennis sunbae are getting it on, what with all the talk about “kissing”.
Word spreads like wildfire, and mutates. Seung Jo overhears the gossiping that has Ha Ni actually kissing tennis sunbae and asking for more. Of course Prince Seung Jo gets annoyed. Tennis sunbae freezes up when he sees Hye Ra and cannot perform his kiss maneuver on her. Tennis sunbae is so furious at himself he grabs the tennis racket and is about to go unleash some hell on the poor folks, but is restrained by Ha Ni. And Seung Jo watches the two of them grabbing at each other.
Ha Ni is informed by her friends about the rumors, which she laughs off until it dawns on her that their interaction could be misconstrued. She runs off to explain herself to Seung Jo, but finds him walking with Hye Ra, who uses that opportunity to bring up how quickly Ha Ni has progressed with tennis sunbae. Seung Jo ignores Ha Ni and brushes right past her. Oh poor boy, sorry you can’t handle your personal love bunny spending time with another man.
Ha Ni wants to text Seung Jo, but can’t bring herself to send. Seung Jo hears a text and clearly hopes that it’s from Ha Ni. Back at the Baek house, the parents are out on a date, and Eun Jo comes out to play. He eats and entire pizza while playing video games (which excites me to no end seeing Eun Jo act like a kid his age), and falls ill. Ha Ni happens to be by the house, and calls Seung Jo in a panic.
Seung Jo calmly talks to her on how to handle the situation until an ambulance arrives take Eun Jo to the hospital. The doctor tells Ha Ni that Eun Jo needs immediate surgery (he has intussusception – when one part of the intestine has folded itself into another part), and Ha Ni consents.
As Eun Jo is recovering post-surgery, Seung Jo tells Ha Ni that the doctor complimented her on her handling of the emergency. Ha Ni tries to explain the gossip with tennis sunbae, and Seung Jo tentatively reaches over clasp her shoulder. He cuts in and tells her that he’s already heard the whole story.
He thanks her, and gently lays his cheek barely grazing her head. She turns around and he holds her in for a hug as she sobs, telling him how scared she was that should would make another mistake, that something would happen to Eun Jo. In Seung Jo’s gentle embrace, Ha Ni feels like her heart is going to melt.
Ha Ni’s father is having financial difficulty with the house construction, and the Baeks give him back all the monthly rent he paid them during the time living in their house. The Baek parents also use this opportunity to convince Ha Ni’s dad to move back in with them. Mom reveals the kiss to the two dads, telling them that the kids just want to conceal their budding relationship from the elders.
Ha Ni and Seung Jo hang out with Eun Jo, and another little boy Noo Ri who shares the same hospital room. They find out that Noo Ri is really sick and has been in the hospital for over a year now, unlike Eun Jo who is recovering from surgery. When told that Noo Ri has to re-do the 4th grade, Ha Ni offers to teach him his lessons. Smartypants senior and junior both mock her and tell her to just eat some cake.
The nurse tells Ha Ni and Seung Jo that Noo Ri needs to rest and cannot play around with them, despite it making Noo Ri happy. The poor kid has heart problems, and Ha Ni is saddened to see such a small child having to do IV drips daily, take so much medication, and be bed-ridden. Seung Jo tells Ha Ni that crying isn’t any help. Ha Ni says that Seung Jo can actually do something. Since he’s a genius, it’ll be easy for him to become a doctor, and if he’s a doctor, he can help all the sick patients.
Seung Jo responds that he’s not going to become a doctor just because Ha Ni wants him to be one. To Ha Ni, a doctor is exactly what she imagines Seung Jo to be, picturing already her Seung Jo in a white coat. She tells him she wants to see that, and Seung Jo tells her that she’s hopeless.
Ha Ni and Seung Jo go to the hospital every afternoon, to tutor the boys and play with them. Eun Jo gets discharged from the hospital, and there is a round of tearful goodbyes with Noo Ri. Ha Ni finds out at his welcome home party that she has been moved back into the Baek house.
Ha Ni finds Seung Jo sitting outside on the porch, and she joins him. Ha Ni says that its strange how she ended up living again in the Baek house, and Seung Jo tells her not to cause any more problems for him. Nothing more is said, except both are content and happy. Ha Ni happy because she is back to being with her beloved Seung Jo, who looks at Ha Ni and smiles a small but genuine grin.
Joon Gu makes the perfect little dumplings for Ha Ni, and while they are enjoying the meal, Ha Ni’s dad tells Joon Gu that they are moving back in with the Baeks. Joon Gu’s face falls, and his disappointment is palpable. [Lee Tae Sung’s acting is marvelous in how he essays that very second of happiness turned to gut punch when he hears about Ha Ni moving back in with Seung Jo].
For Ha Ni, even though she feels sadness at causing Joon Gu pain, she is still happy to be living with Seung Jo again. That night, Ha Ni is taking a bath after moving back in, but she can’t find her underwear. She wraps herself in a towel and tries to sneak back to her room, only to have Seung Jo pop up with her underwear on his finger.
He asks of its hers, and she accuses him of stealing it. Seung Jo can’t imagine anyone wanting to steal underwear that only a kid would wear. She tells him that she only occasionally wears this underwear, and she usually wears lace panties. Seung Jo then tells her that she’s unsexy anyways, and probably an A cup is more than enough for her.
Seung Jo tells her that it looks like she hasn’t developed any further since grade school. He can look at her wrapped only in a towel and not feel anything. Ha Ni is mortified, and asks whether it’s amusing for him to tease her so. If Seung Jo doesn’t like her living in the house again, he should just say so. Seung Jo says he can’t help himself, when he sees her he gets an urge to tease her. He says its clearly her fault, since she drops stuff left and right.
Daddy Baek sees them talking and tells them that Eun Jo is around and not to be so open with their affection lest the poor boy is traumatized by some adult loving. Plus, they should wait until they are married. Heh. Ha Ni scurries to her room, while Seung Jo happily smiles, yet again. Okay, Seung Jo is really making up for a lifetime of being a poker-face in this episode, isn’t he?
Daddy Baek takes Seung Jo to school, and asks when he has to pick a major/profession. Seung Jo replies that he’ll pick in the next semester. Daddy wants him to major in business, but Seung Jo replies that he’s not interested. At school, Ha Ni stops her bike to talk to Seung Jo, who just ignores her.
Seung Jo tells Hye Ra that he’s always had everything so easy (as has she). Since he met Ha Ni, he’s startled to realize there is a different way to see the world. She makes him want to push himself more, rather than coast through life. Hye Ra listens, with an understanding of what Seung Jo is saying reflects about the way he feels towards Ha Ni.
A funny little interlude where Ha Ni realizes that tennis sunbae needs to hold a tennis racket when he confesses to Hye Ra, since he becomes a confident and determined person when he has a racket in hand. Back at the Baek house, Ha Ni and Mom indulge in some mother-daughter female housework bonding. In Seung Jo’s room, she sees a newspaper open with apartment rentals circled.
Ha Ni laughing tells Seung Jo she heard from tennis sunbae that he might move out, and that is must be a joke. Seung Jo confirms it to be true, he is planning to movie out. Ha Ni wonders if it’s because she moved back in, and Seung Jo tells her it has nothing to do with her, and for her not to assume everything happens because of her.
He wants to be more independent, be a responsible person and not rely on his rich parents anymore. He wants to move out, get a job, and support himself through school. This really doesn’t seem like a move to get away from Ha Ni, more like a move that being with Ha Ni has spurred in him – to think about his future and his goals in life, and to be proactive.
Thoughts of Mine:
Episode 9 welcomes back Ha Ni-of-the-hairdo-changes, and introduces Seung Jo-he-who-now-secretly-smiles-a-lot. I liked this episode, it wasn’t ground-shifting nor was it rife with a lot of anything in particular. There weren’t a lot of laughs, nor were there a lot of angst. Misunderstandings were resolved quickly or not even allowed to form at all.
What I love about PK is that everyone talks, about pretty much exactly what they are thinking. And every word is honest, their real feelings at that time. Hye Ra tells Seung Jo she likes him, Ha Ni tells Seung Jo she likes him, Joon Gu tells Ha Ni he likes her, everyone knows tennis sunbae likes Hye Ra, Seung Jo tells both girls exactly the state of his emotions.
It’s just too bad Seung Jo’s emotional catharsis takes forever to rise, as he continues to putter along like the turtle in the race. Folks may bemoan the continued juxtaposition between nice and warm Seung Jo with cold and distant Seung Jo, sometimes both appearing within scenes of each other. I find this wholly believable, the tenor of their relationship factoring into other considerations percolating in Seung Jo’s mind, i.e. his future.
Seung Jo is past treating Ha Ni badly as a defense mechanism or on purpose as an outlet for his jealousy or confusion. He both accepts and enjoys Ha Ni in his life, as well as requires some distance from her to sort out his own issues. How many of us need space and the room to grow? Seung Jo needs that from Ha Ni, but runs the risk of losing her. It’s a double-edge sword.
It may feel like retreading to see the same types of happy and not-so-happy interactions between Seung Jo and Ha Ni, but I can see they have taken many steps forward as people and as friends who have gotten to know each other. Plus, it feels so real, like the confusion of emotions make for people acting warm one moment and distant in another. What PK lacks is drama of the OMG-variety or any high-stakes life and death dilemma. I like it, but it does make for episodes that are like taking a hot bath, infinitely pleasurable during but forgettable afterwards.
And poor Joon Gu, who barely has any screen time in this episode. He’s breaking my heart simply by thinking about him quietly pining for Ha Ni. I can’t wait for him to meet his OTP, because this boy is 100% goodness wrapped in a hottie shell.
Finally, I don’t think we’ll see their post-wedding story, other than maybe as a montage or brief fly-over. At the pace of the story, I think episode 14 is the earliest we’ll get the Big Moment In The Rain.
[Credit for screen caps goes to soompi.com PK forum and MBC official stills]