Try as he might to emerge from his shell all on his own, Hwan-ki learns that working toward self-improvement isn’t a solo effort, but rather one that involves collective interaction, even if it means butting heads and slapping on a smile for a group photo. His feelings finally start to bubble to the surface, and the others begin to see that Hwan-ki is quite the lovable and brilliant man.
EPISODE 7: “The Dignity of a Supporting Role”
Hwan-ki the Christmas Panda dances animatedly for the kids at the orphanage, buoyed by his costume and the receptive audience. “I’ve changed!” he eagerly thinks to himself.
Afterward, in the cafeteria, Hwan-ki’s cutting his homemade kimchi when Ro-woon brings up the rumor about his secretary who committed suicide three years ago: “What was that person like?”
Hwan-ki pauses, painfully reminded of Ji-hye, and answers that she was a good person, but regrets never telling her this. Ro-woon’s moved by his response and surprises him when she tries some of his kimchi. “I thought you didn’t like kimchi,” he says.
Ro-woon answers that she doesn’t dislike it, but that she’s unable to like it anymore. She goes on to explain that her big sister passed away — unaware that he already knows — and that her devastated mom stopped making kimchi because there was no one left to eat it in their family, even though she liked kimchi and was her mom’s daughter, too. Fighting back tears, Ro-woon adds that her mom lost her will to live and died from heart disease.
She’s never touched kimchi since because it reminded her of her mom, but Ro-woon brightly exclaims that she can probably eat it now and munches on another piece. Hwan-ki quietly nods when asked if he made the kimchi himself, and Ro-woon continues to eat more, raving about how tasty it is through her sniffles.
Yi-soo celebrates Christmas with Woo-il and her parents over a fancy dinner. Her dad criticizes Silent Monster’s employees in front of Woo-il and orders him to butter up Mr. Park of Rose Airlines and have Silent Monster handle the man’s PR project — he needs the support of Mr. Park’s wife’s family for the primary election. Woo-il has no choice but to obey, and his unease is apparent.
At his office, Woo-il holds up Ji-hye’s building drawing and Ro-woon’s rough scrawl of his face, which she left on the company Christmas tree. A tear rolls down his face, and he smiles sadly. Back at the orphanage, Ro-woon watches Hwan-ki happily feeding the children, and wonders if Ji-hye saw his true self: “It might not have been his fault. What if something else happened to her?” Yes, nice to see your narrow mind slowly opening, Ro-woon.
She answers a call from Woo-il. He’s at a bar — ugh, the same one from three years ago! — and asks if they can meet because there’s something he must tell her. Ro-woon thinks back to all the times he’s looked after her and asks herself, “Could Woo-il be… Mr. Smith?” Woo-il dozes off at the bar, and when a call comes in from Yi-soo, he’s reminded of when he forcibly kissed Ji-hye.
The bartender answers Yi-soo’s call and informs her that Woo-il is drunk and by himself. Moments later, Woo-il feels a hand on his shoulder and looks up to find Ji-hye’s concerned face. He asks her how she is, and we see that it’s really Ro-woon who just arrived. Slipping in and out of drunken stupor, he finally recognizes Ro-woon, who reminds him that he called her here to say something.
She’s about to ask if he is who she thinks he is, but Woo-il interrupts, slurring that he isn’t and that she’ll be disappointed once she gets to know him. He looks away, ashamed, and emphasizes that he doesn’t deserve her gazes. Ro-woon’s puzzled by his words and catches him from falling over. When he looks up at her, he sees Ji-hye again and clutches her hand while apologizing for being a coward.
Ro-woon leaves him at the bar to grab him some medicine. Back at the orphanage, the director thanks Hwan-ki for his help and informs him that Ro-woon left earlier. He sees missed calls from Yi-soo and calls her back. She says Woo-il suddenly disappeared, but that she found him.
She says this while helping an inebriated Woo-il into the car. Hwan-ki asks if Woo-il truly was alone at the bar, and Yi-soo’s about to respond when she spots Ro-woon returning to the hotel bar. Despite this sight, she tells Hwan-ki that Woo-il was indeed alone.
Hwan-ki assures her not to worry, since Woo-il was probably troubled by work matters. Ro-woon returns to the bar with medicine for Woo-il, but finds that he’s no longer there. Inside the car, Yi-soo tilts Woo-il’s head so he can sleep against her shoulder, but he shifts away from her.
The next day, Ro-woon informs Reporter Woo that her revenge plan is over. She believes something else pushed Ji-hye to commit suicide, and that Hwan-ki wasn’t involved. Reporter Woo asks her what changed her mind, and she smiles, thinking back to Panda Hwan-ki.
However, she’ll remain employed to locate Mr. Smith, convinced he’s a Brain employee who carries the truth about Ji-hye’s death that no one else knows. Meanwhile, Hwan-ki’s at the library for another session with his therapist.
This time separated by a bookshelf, Hwan-ki informs her that his team’s future depends on their next project, and that he must change. But she chides him for working so hard by himself while no one is looking, which is the way he’s always lived his life.
She urges him to work as a team. Cut to him surrounded by his employees. Yoo-hee begins by describing their client, Mr. Park of Rose Airlines, a man whose negative public opinion remains dominant after his power abuse controversy.
Hwan-ki follows his therapist’s advice about using a tool to calm himself and picks up his boxcutter. This scares the employees, but he instructs them to share their thoughts while he listens and sharpens his pencil. Se-jong suggests a volunteer outing for Mr. Park, but Hwan-ki finds it too obvious.
Ro-woon suggests an overseas trip for orphans. Sun-bong snidely remarks that they shouldn’t have to clean up after an abusive owner’s mess, alluding to Hwan-ki’s own power abuse scandal.
Because it’ll be difficult to restore Mr. Park’s image, Hwan-ki concludes that they’ll need to focus on improving his company’s image instead, but he spirals into his black hole of overthinking. He thinks about how not to hurt anyone’s feelings, word choice, delivery, and finally figures out what to say, but he just ends up spooking his employees who mistakenly believe he’s angry and needs more time to think. Poor Hwan-ki laments his missed opportunity.
He’s back at the library, looking defeated. “I can never be the main character,” he says to his therapist. But she reminds him that he’s the leader and can’t be in a supporting role forever. She urges him to challenge himself to a team dinner and get friendly with his employees.
Cut to the Silent Monster crew at a bar. They’re suspicious of this team dinner, but Yoo-hee and Ro-woon believe Hwan-ki’s trying to change himself for the better. Hwan-ki’s running late, and Kyo-ri ends up chosen as the one to check up on him.
Hwan-ki’s still at home trying on all his clothes, unsure of what to wear. Kyo-ri arrives to let him know that everyone’s waiting for him and is startled when Hwan-ki asks her for help. He explains that she seems fashion-savvy and that he’s been considering her for an Account Executive role specializing in that area.
Surprised and flattered, Kyo-ri eagerly helps him out, and Hwan-ki steps out in a dark velvet suit. He wonders if he looks too formal, but is quick to reassure Kyo-ri that he genuinely likes her pick, which brings a smile to her face. He beams shyly, appreciative of her help.
Hwan-ki finally arrives at the bar looking sharp and maybe a tad overdressed, heh. The Silent Monster crew can hardly believe their eyes, and Ro-woon looks impressed.
Kyo-ri quickly removes the clip left in his hair and proudly announces that she styled him. Sun-bong scoffs, wondering if Hwan-ki’s heading to an award ceremony, which hurts Kyo-ri’s feelings. Yoo-hee asks Hwan-ki to make a toast before drinking, but he ends up wordlessly downing his beer, so they follow suit.
Then selfie-taking and exchanging commences while Hwan-ki merely watches. To her coworkers’ chagrin, Ro-woon adds Hwan-ki to their chatroom, and Yoo-hee suggests they all take a group photo. Hwan-ki offers to take it, but Ro-woon asks a server to take one of all of them.
She gently reminds Hwan-ki to smile, and he manages to produce a wide-eyed, close-mouthed, slightly contrived grin. It’s an adorably awkward photo, and Hwan-ki receives compliments on how nice he turned out, which makes him smile. Aw!
Coincidentally, Woo-il and his employees arrive for their team dinner. Woo-il knocks Hwan-ki’s formal attire, but looking at his first group photo and zooming into his successful smile cheers Hwan-ki up instantly.
Later, Kyo-ri admits to Se-jong that she was job searching on her phone, worried that she’s unfit to dress Hwan-ki, let alone become an account executive. She asks if Se-jong is worried about his future, but he answers that he wants to get fired so he can become a celebrity. He scarfs down sausages because he can’t eat any at home, eliciting Kyo-ri’s sympathy — haha, she thinks he’s poor! — but he states that his life isn’t actually so bad, heh.
Se-jong asks Hwan-ki to snap pictures of him, but instead he focuses on Ro-woon, capturing her candid moments. But his smile vanishes when she approaches Woo-il and asks for a word, and Hwan-ki makes sure to follow them.
Ro-woon’s about to speak when Woo-il interrupts and apologizes for what happened on Christmas Eve. He asks that they no longer mention that incident, and Ro-woon agrees to keep it under wraps, even though that wasn’t what she wanted to discuss with him. Hwan-ki tenses from behind a wall, having overheard that they were together on Christmas Eve.
When Woo-il returns to the bar, he offers to help the Silent Monster employees on their project by handling Mr. Park, but Hwan-ki angrily rejects him and shouts that his assistance isn’t needed. After startling everyone with his sudden outburst, Hwan-ki leaves abruptly, and Ro-woon follows him out.
Hwan-ki is furious: “I’m angry that I’m angry!” Ro-woon overhears him updating his therapist on how he ruined the team dinner. But the therapist informs him that he’s changing for the better because his emotions have finally resurfaced. Hwan-ki notices Ro-woon’s presence and runs away, even though she’s touched by his efforts to change.
Woo-il returns home, but Yi-soo’s mom shoots him a disapproving look before heading to her room. Yi-soo assures him that it’s nothing personal, but Woo-il knows better and corrects her, saying that she’s probably mad because he suddenly disappeared on Christmas Eve. Yi-soo avoids the subject entirely, which only seems to egg Woo-il on more. “Aren’t you curious about why I did that and what happened? Aren’t you angry?”
Yi-soo faces him and replies that he wasn’t going to tell her anyway. “But I prefer that… even if you don’t say anything, I can understand and wait for you because I trust you.” Oh, girl.
At home, Hwan-ki looks through the photos he took of Ro-woon on his laptop and paces anxiously, because he can’t get Ro-woon out of his head. She actually returns to the office because she left her wallet behind and lets Hwan-ki know that the director of White Cloud Orphanage approved the Rose Airlines-sponsored Malaysia trip.
Hwan-ki asks her point blank if she met up with Woo-il on Christmas Eve, and Ro-woon explains that he had something to say to her, but by the time she arrived, he was too drunk and incoherent. She assures Hwan-ki that nothing happened between the two. Hwan-ki eyes her suspiciously for a beat too long, so she excuses herself to grab some water in the kitchen.
As soon as Ro-woon spots his laptop open, Hwan-ki swoops in and wraps his jacket around her so she doesn’t realize that he was looking at the photos he took of her. He closes his laptop and finally lets her go, but the intimate encounter leaves the two feeling hot and flustered.
Mr. Park of Rose Airlines arrives at the airport the next day wanting to speak to the head of the project, but Hwan-ki’s busy snapping photos of the kids from White Cloud Orphanage, and Woo-il’s running late. A rep relays whatever Mr. Park whispers into his ear and informs the Silent Monster employees that Mr. Park is an introvert. Se-jong quips that he’ll get along swimmingly with Hwan-ki then, and Mr. Park suddenly recognizes Se-jong as the grandson of the KJ Foods magnate.
His coworkers are stunned to learn about Se-jong’s wealthy background, and Mr. Park takes offense when Se-jong admits to not knowing who he was. When Woo-il arrives at the airport, he runs into the director of White Cloud Orphanage and introduces himself, adding that it’s been twenty years since their last meeting.
Flashback to the director tearfully saying goodbye to Woo-il before he left with Hwan-ki’s dad twenty years ago. Back in the present, Ro-woon’s surprised the two know each other, and the director grows emotional at the sight of Woo-il all grown up. This moment is disrupted, however, when Mr. Park shows up and denigrates Woo-il in front of everyone.
Mr. Park yells at him for making him wait, and the orphanage director can only look on sadly as Woo-il bows in apology and accepts fault. They relocate to a cafe, and Mr. Park expresses that he cares little for the orphans and merely wants Silent Monster to restore his image ASAP. Woo-il tries to be attentive to him, but his phone keeps vibrating with urgent texts from Yi-soo’s mom.
Woo-il’s distraction only exacerbates Mr. Park’s anger, but luckily, Hwan-ki steps in and informs him that his team will take over from here, while pulling Woo-il aside. Hwan-ki instructs Woo-il to return to the office, assuring him that he’ll handle the project and take care of his staff.
Woo-il and Yi-soo arrive at the same place and time and are surprised to learn that Yi-soo’s mom had called them both. Turns out the “emergency” was just an excuse for Yi-soo’s mom to flaunt a gown and pressure Woo-il to get Yi-soo in a wedding dress already since they’ve been engaged for three years. Then Yi-soo’s dad enters, livid (when is he not?), and smacks Woo-il in the face for doing wedding stuff instead of currying Mr. Park’s favor.
Yi-soo cries foul, blaming her crazy parents, but all Woo-il can do is quietly dip his head and walk out. She pleads with him to stay, but he receives a call from Ro-woon and drives away. Back at the airport, Mr. Park smiles with the orphans and the Silent Monster crew for a promotional photo when one of the kids starts bawling because she lost her panda teddy.
Mr. Park warns her to cut it out, but only succeeds in inducing all the other kids to tears, effectively ruining the photo op. Hwan-ki informs Mr. Park that he’s the CEO responsible for the project, and Mr. Park threatens to quit — he entrusted Silent Monster to help because of Hwan-ki’s dad, but is displeased with this mess. But Hwan-ki doesn’t try to appease him and nonchalantly agrees that they should cancel his schedule — less exposure is better for the children, plus, he can only guarantee improvement for the company’s image and not Mr. Park’s.
Mr. Park slaps on a smile for the reporters before storming off, and his rep hands Hwan-ki the wallet Woo-il left behind. Ro-woon’s sketch of Woo-il slips out, and Hwan-ki can’t help but feel annoyed. (Or jealous?) The Silent Monster crew heads to their gate with the kids, but the girl who lost her teddy is inconsolable.
Ro-woon watches as Hwan-ki steps in and comforts her — we can’t hear what he says — but he smiles and gesticulates and ends with a pinky promise. He guides her to Ro-woon and says he’ll join them later, and Ro-woon replies that she’ll wait for him, which makes him roll his eyes, lol. Woo-il speeds to his office, and Ro-woon lets him know that they’re about to board.
On the plane, Kyo-ri steals glances at Se-jong, and Sun-bong notices. He advises her to give up her one-sided crush because everyone will think she’s after his money, and Kyo-ri bursts into tears, fully aware. Ro-woon asks the little girl what Hwan-ki had told her, and she replies that he had forgotten his ticket. Hmmm?
Cut to Malaysia, where the Silent Monster crew plays with the kids, except for the little girl who lost her teddy. The director explains to Ro-woon that the panda was her friend/family and she’s never seen without it. Ro-woon takes her outside for some fresh air, and they both wonder aloud why “he” isn’t here yet — Hwan-ki for Ro-woon, and the panda for the girl.
Se-jong is surprised to see her missing panda on Rose Airlines’ Instagram with tens of thousands of likes along with the cute caption, “The bear who found his ticket!” We return to the scene where Hwan-ki comforted the little girl and hear what he said to her: “The bear was so excited for his first trip that he forgot his ticket!” Hwan-ki promised to find the panda and get on the next flight with it, and asked the girl to wait for him.
Hwan-ki had scoured the airport and finally found the panda at a cafe. He created a story about panda’s first air trip and took photos to document its journey from security to dining on the plane for Rose Airlines’ Instagram page. Ro-woon narrates, “That person was in a supporting role who shined brighter than the main lead.”
Back in the present, Se-jong shows the viral panda photos to the rest of the Silent Monster team, and they’re all so impressed by their boss. The little girl asks Ro-woon if she wants to see “the guy in black” soon, and Ro-woon denies it, but as soon as Hwan-ki appears before them, Ro-woon breaks into a huge smile. Hwan-ki strides toward the two and surprises Ro-woon when he says, “I missed you.”
Aww. What a sweet and delightful episode! My love for Hwan-ki — and the desire to bear-hug him! — continues to grow because he’s such a good guy with a big, selfless heart. It makes a lot of sense for someone as sensitive as he is to feel comfortable and safe around kids because they’re so innocent and pure at heart; there’s no judgment in their eyes, no preconceived notions or cynicism either. They take Hwan-ki as they see him, which means he doesn’t have to overcompensate or overthink his actions. I’m not sure if Hwan-ki’s “I miss you” was directed at Ro-woon or was even a figment of her imagination, but I can tell she already has hearts in her eyes.
I’m glad Ro-woon’s revenge plot is over, and I don’t even mind that the way it ended was rather convenient and abrupt. At least the weakest plot point was done away with swiftly, which also eliminates Ro-woon’s alarming and off-putting presumptuousness. I’m going to guess that the rewrites involved softening the rough edges of her character, and I definitely noticed Ro-woon go from impulsive and in-your-face to composed and considerate from Episode 6. I also noticed that as Ro-woon’s recklessness receded, Hwan-ki became the focal point of the story; the story of revenge became a tale of personal growth, and because Hwan-ki’s such a great character, this change in direction does not bother me one bit. Restrained Ro-woon and more Hwan-ki? I’ll take it.
Why Yi-soo continues to stand by Woo-il, I’ll never understand. The pitiful man cheated on her with Ji-hye and very nearly messed up again with Ro-woon at the same bar. It’s clear he doesn’t love Yi-soo as much as she loves him. She turns a blind eye to all the glaringly obvious red flags, deluding herself into thinking that what she has with Woo-il is love, when really, the cracks are showing and Woo-il is on the verge of implosion, having to kowtow to Yi-soo’s crazy dad all the time. Woo-il’s got a ton of baggage, and his feelings for Ro-woon (ugh) are only going to complicate matters more, unfortunately.
They say that admitting you have a problem is the first step in fixing the problem, and if that’s the case, Hwan-ki’s on the right track, though I’d argue that he never had to “admit” anything because he was aware of his “problem” from the beginning. It reveals a lot that his motivation to change for the better is his Silent Monster team, and I think once they start to see Hwan-ki as the smart and caring boss that he is, the quicker Hwan-ki will be able to emerge from his shell. Gaining the trust and respect of his staff will allow him to become more confident in himself. Already, he’s had the courage to ask Kyo-ri to help him with his outfit, snap at Woo-il and reject his help, and sever ties with a haughty client. Hwan-ki doesn’t necessarily need to revamp who he is; he’s good in his core, and it’s just a matter of bringing that out for others to see. It’s so great that he’s already making strides.
I loved the scene where Kyo-ri picked his outfit; it reminded me of Ji-hye doing the same for him, and it was nice to see his shy smiles again. And how adorable was he when he succeeded in smiling for the Silent Monster group picture?! It was a tiny victory, but a huge deal for him, and I was beaming the whole time. He seriously had the cutest awkward smile I’ve ever seen. The panda and Hwan-ki storyline was delightful, and I have a feeling there will be lots of fun and humor to be had in Malaysia. I’m expecting sparks of the romantic variety, awkward close encounters, and fierce rivalry because, as we all know in dramaland, there’s nothing like a random getaway to speed up budding relationships.