Recap: Pinocchio Episode 3
Truth floats through the lies like oil rising in water. And a reporter has to find a way for those truths to float, even if it means creating those lies surrounding the truth.
Episode 3 “Snow Queen”
The sun is streaming into Dal Po’s room, who is still sleeping. A woman’s voice calls him, calling him Ha Myung and telling him to get up and come eat. Dal Po first whines for a few minutes more of sleep but then jumps up in his bed- “Mom?” He rushes out and he can’t believe his eyes. It’s his mom and dad in the kitchen- his dad telling tales of his latest heroic deed and his mom listening faithfully. His brother in the house, too, putting on his suit. His face is hidden to Dal Po, however, just at an angle away from a full facial view.
Ha Myung (Dal Po) pinches his dad’s cheek, wanting to know if this is a dream? His family asks him what is he talking about- did he dream, what about? Ha Myung replies, “A bad dream,” and describes briefly what happened. His family calls him crazy and his mom hits his father for doing something bad in Ha Myung’s dream. He is just about to believe all those horrible memories of his father running away and his mother dying was just a bad dream whe he felt his mother’s warm hand on his face, but then he sees In Ha, calling him uncle. His family asks like nothing is wrong and his brother is calling In Ha his niece too. Ha Myung realizes it is a dream, but he doesn’t want to wake up. But wait! The tablecloth feels so real. This has to be real!
But it is not. It is October 2013 and the Choi family has moved to Seoul since the last time we saw them. Dal Po is definitely dreaming and he is rubbing the cloth of In Ha’s skirt that feels very similar to the tablecloth in his dream. He rubs her skirt a little too hard and a little too close, earning him a punch in the face and an exclamation of “pervert!”
Dal Po has a nice bruise on his face now that he is nursing at the breakfast table. In Ha is making fun of his style and looks, when her father reminds her to have some shame; she is in no position to make fun of her uncle who is contributing money to the family working as a taxi driver while In Ha tries for three years after graduating college to become a tv news reporter.
In Ha grinds her teeth. She’s having the final interview tomorrow to earn a spot as a reporter at a tv station so if she passes this, her father can’t say anything anymore. Dad bursts her ego and tells her this is nothing to be proud of after trying for three years already! If she fails this time too, she will have to do as it states in their contract.
We see the contract on the wall. Signed in 2010, In Ha promised to try to become a reporter only for three years. If she fails after that, she will follow her dad’s lead and go on blind dates for marriage.
Dal Po and In Ha bicker about her chances of passing. In Ha is quite positive she will be able to since ten people are being interviewed and only one or two fail to pass. All this bickering is done as the two swap the yellow and white parts of their fried eggs. Dal Po gives her the white while she gives him the yellow.
Kim Gong Joo and Lee Il Joo, both from MSC network’s local news department, are at the airport waiting for Song Cha Ok (In Ha’s mom) coming back from Washington, D.C. They talk about the ten candidates being interviewed and how one of them has the Pinocchio syndrome. She is likely to be hired, despite that disability, since she is Song Cha Ok’s daughter. This leads to them talking about Song Cha Ok, well, Kim Gong Joo talks about how her reputation is a bubble and describes how Cha Ok got to her status by intercepting someone’s foreign correspondent position, etc. Yet, since she is his superior and senior, he puts on a fake smile on his face to greet her enthusiastically.
Back at the Choi house, grandpa shows Dal Po a picture of a pretty young woman (lol, it’s actress Kim Min Jung). He wants to introduce Dal Po to her since he broke up with his old girlfriend. Dal Po shifts his eyes as he says he already found a new girlfriend. He starts describing her but In Ha’s dad points out his description of his new girlfriend sounds exactly like his old.
In Ha advises Dal Po to buy some new clothes, as she grooms his messy hair, since his awful style is what keeps him getting dumped.
Grandpa asks In Ha in secret if Dal Po’s fashion is really that bad. In Ha replies, “Not just bad, but rotten.” HA!
Later, In Ha reveals to Dal Po that she is taking the final interview for MSC. Dal Po is not pleased, but he just asks if she texted her mom about it. In Ha has. She wants his opinion on what to wear tomorrow since she might see her mother but he is in a bad mood and he leaves her room without a proper response.
In Ha has come out of the apartment and starts to help Dal Po move other people’s cars blocking his. She wants to know if she looks okay, but he replies that she looks stupid in that suit. In Ha asks why he is in such a bad mood, but he just asks her if she really thinks that the number she is texting to is really her mom’s number. In Ha believes it is so since she never got a text saying it wasn’t. Dal Po points out the opposite- that she should have received a text saying yes it is if it really was.
In Ha excuses her mother, saying she is very busy. Dal Po asks how busy her mother could have been to ignore her daughter’s texts for ten years. Either her number changed or she doesn’t care. The latter possibility jabs In Ha a little in the heart. She stops helping Dal Po.
In Ha firmly believes her mother was just too busy to reply since she was in Tokyo and Washington, D.C. as a foreign correspondent. Why is Dal Po and her dad so hell bent on making her mom out to be a bad person. Dal Po replies that he just doesn’t want her to get her hopes up so high. In Ha says don’t worry- she believes in the mom that she saw no matter what other people say. In Ha asks if Dal Po ever met her mom. Dal Po can’t answer truthfully. In Ha continues to say she only believes what she saw, just like she believed him eight years ago. So don’t slander her mother without evidence!
In Ha walks away angry and Dal Po gets into his taxi. In an obvious bit of product placement, he turns on the car’s GPS system called Hye Sung and starts talking to it- “What should I do?” Hye Sung’s reply? “Drive safely.” Yes, you crazy Korean drivers. Please drive safely.
In Ha’s dad is also on his way out for work when he spots a wallet in the doorway. It’s Dal Po’s, but dad’s smile face when he sees In Ha’s picture in his wallet. He goes to the balcony to call out to Dal Po and tell him about the wallet, but he spots Dal Po looking at someone. It’s his daughter, In Ha, walking away. He looks at the picture inside Dal Po’s wallet again.
Dal Po drives up to the bus stop where In Ha is waiting and she agrees to let him drive her to the tv station only when he promises not to charge her like he always does.
In Ha is silent in the back seat, so to start up conversation, Dal Po asks if she wants to buy his awesome dream from last night. He saw people he wanted to see in his dream. In Ha buys it after some haggling and hearing Dal Po’s suggestion that if it is indeed a good dream, she might meet her mom today.
Dal Po rips off a small gold button from his shirt and gives it to In Ha, sort of like a receipt. She calls it childish, but proceeds to put it as a pendant on her gold chain necklace. She asks whom Dal Po met in his dream. He tells her she doesn’t need to know.
Kim Gong Joo (from MSC) is at the Seoul Metropolitan Policy Agency since he is the reporter in charge of affairs there and the captain of the breaking local news team) Hwang Gyo Dong (Lee Pil Mo) is also there, since he is the same position and rank as Kim Gong Joo, except he is from YGN. I guess Gyo Dong returned to being a reporter after meeting Dal Po at the quiz show. He is looking at an ad in the newspaper about MSC’s news team, which shows Song Cha Ok representing the channel. She has returned from Washington to head the local news department head and also be MSC’s 9 o’clock news anchor (the most prestigious position for a news anchor in Korea).
Kim Gong Joo tells Gyo Dong that her appointment is a gamble on part of the tv station since the ratings for their news show is so low compared to YGN’s. Gyo Dong describes the gamble as an all or nothing situation and Gong Joo agrees. Song Cha Ok is pretty legendary with her resume (first female reporter to be captain of the breaking local news team and two-time foreign correspondent). Gyo Dong adds that Song Cha Ok finished a marathon and also won a beer-drinking contest. She’s also pretty and has showmanship skills.
Song Cha Ok’s reputation, resume, and showmanship might be the float for MSC but her showmanship might also be the rock that sinks it, Gyo Dong suggests. Gong Joo agrees- Song Cha Ok bought children’s shoes from the department store to pose with them in tears in front of an accident and also reported on her knees during a flood story so it looked like the water was waist deep when really the water was only knee high. Gyo Dong calls that fraud, not just exaggeration. Gong Joo agrees again- that is why MSC is called the MSG network.
The other guy there chides Gong Joo for speaking so ill of his superior but Gong Joo says that shouldn’t matter for a reporter in order for them to tell the truth. Gyo Dong looks at Gong Joo strangely. He points out that Gong Joo has been typing in the phrase “Kim Gong Joo handsome reporter” this whole time into the search engine so he can manipulate the related search terms that come up with his name. Not a very truthful act, is it? Gong Joo replies that what he is doing is nothing compared to what Song Cha Ok does.
In Ha is at the beauty salon, getting her make-up done for the interview. She points to the newspaper with her mom’s picture in it- she wants the same look.
She gets a text. It’s from her mom. It is short- one word of “hwaiting.” In Ha is so happy to receive this text, a first in thirteen years, that she looks and sounds crazy. In Ha also calls Dal Po to tell him the good news. He considers bursting her bubble again but decides he better not. He congratulates her instead. In Ha thinks it might be because of the dream he sold her.
Dal Po hangs up and talks to Hye Sung again, asking if In Ha is just innocent or stupid. The foreign guy riding in his taxi thinks Dal Po is crazy, but we and he learn Dal Po also understands English when Dal Po replies that he is quite alright. Smart kid.
After dropping his customer off, Dal Po spots a grandpa looking very worried in front of a truck. Dal Po gets out to help and learns the grandpa was pushing his cart downhill, lost control, hit the truck, and dented the bumper. He was looking for his phone to call the truck driver and was worried how much this will cost. Dal Po offers to contact the driver in the grandpa’s stead and sends him off. Dal Po leaves a note on the truck’s windshield with his number, letting the driver know it was his fault. Good kid!
In Ha’s dad calls to tell him about his wallet. JUST AT THAT MOMENT, Jae Myung comes out of the house. He is the truck driver BUT HA MYUNG NEVER SEES HIM BECAUSE OF THE CALL. Gah!
In Ha’s dad sits at his office (he is a real estate agent) and looks at In Ha’s picture inside Dal Po’s wallet again. He reflects back to what he saw that night when In Ha and Dal Po came home in the rain after she picked him up at the bus station on the day of the quiz show. He saw the way Dal Po looked at In Ha. He also knows Dal Po gave up going to college so that In Ha could, since he couldn’t afford to send both. Dal Po had just said he had no interest and was going to the military anyway.
Dal Po arrives at the office and sees In Ha’s dad looking at her picture inside his wallet. Dal Po says her dad that he just had that picture because he had to bring her photos for her application once and that picture is just a left over. He tells her dad not to misunderstand. Dad asks what is there to misunderstand. Dal Po’s gaze falters as he replies, “If you didn’t, it’s fine.” Dal Po gets back his wallet, but not the picture. Dad explains it is because his girlfriend might misunderstand the picture.
In Ha is at the MSC station and stands in front of her mother’s picture with her arms spread wide- “Do you feel me mom?” Yoon Yoo Rae (Lee Yoo Bi) spots her and calls her crazy.
Later, Yoo Rae comes out of her interview and In Ha asks her if reporter Song Cha Ok is also an interviewer. She is and In Ha is so happy to hear this, despite hearing Yoo Rae describe her as an Ice Witch. Yoo Rae thinks In Ha is even crazier than before.
In Ha steps into the interview room and her mom doesn’t even look at her. The other interviewers ask In Ha immediately about her Pinocchio Syndrome, pointing out there is no reporter in the country with that disability. In Ha replies that she doesn’t understand why, when reporters are people who relay the truth and she is confident viewers will trust her more if they know she can only tell the truth.
In Ha’s mom finally speaks and looks at her. She describes In Ha as innocent, believing a reporter only tells the truth. She says she was also like that when she was a rookie. The other guys say In Ha and Cha Ok are alike and In Ha is so happy to hear she is like her mother.
Song Cha Ok says she will give In Ha a test and if In Ha passes, she will accept that In Ha can be a reporter. In Ha has to call a restaurant which people have tipped off about allowing people to smoke inside illegally. In Ha must not hiccup during the phone call. Song Cha Ok calls one as an example and lies that she is a customer trying to make a reservation and wants to know if her party can smoke. She gets a yes. In Ha calls but she knows she can’t lie without hiccuping so she tells the truth about receiving a tip. The restaurant hangs up on her. In Ha fails her test.
Song Cha Ok asks In Ha how she can become a reporter if she can’t even do a simple investigation like this. In order to report, a reporter sometimes has to lie. Truth floats through the lies like oil rising in water. “This is why a Pinocchio can’t become a reporter.”
In Ha waits outside in the hallway in a state of shock and disappointment. Her mom and the other interviewers finally come out after the interviews are done. Song Cha Ok sees her and excuses herself to talk to In Ha. She asks what In Ha is still doing here (in formal Korean), and In Ha asks to see her phone.
In Ha calls the person she has saved as mom on her phone and has texted for the past decade, but Song Cha Ok’s phone does not ring. In Ha finally believes what Dal Po has told her for years- “Dal Po was right.” Song Cha Ok is about to leave when In Ha calls out to her in a shaky voice, “Mom, I missed you a lot.”
Song Cha Ok hugs In Ha, aware her colleagues are watching. Her colleagues nod in approval, “Still, she is a mother.” In Ha is touched and is about to hug back when her mom whispers in her ear, “Sorry. I was too busy to miss you.” Ouch. Song Cha Ok leaves, her daughter frozen in place, trying to keep back the tears flooding her eyes.
Seo Beom Jo (Kim Young Kwang) gets a text. He has been the number that In Ha has texted all these years. In Ha has written, “You are worse than a thief.” He calls the number, realizing the person who has texted him all these years knows the truth now.
In Ha picks up and starts yelling, demanding to know why he did this, making her into a fool. In Ha breaks down and weeps. “I hoped and waited for ten years!”
Seo Beom Joo hears the phone line go dead and it is only then he is able to say, “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. Really.”
Dal Po has come to pick In Ha up, unbeknownst to her, and he spots her walking out of the building crying. He tries to rush to her but the cars and lights are in his way. He calls her but she hangs up, at which point she starts to hiccup. She texts him instead, lying that she can’t talk because she is with her mom. She lies that her mom hugged her and said, “Sorry I didn’t call. I missed you.” Dal Po asks if In Ha is lying as he watches her from across the street crying and hiccuping. In Ha replies she is telling the truth and that his dream was fortunate. She is sure he will be able to meet the people in his dream too, like how she met her mom. He offers to pick her up and she refuses so Dal Po decides to leave.
Dal Po drives away, trying to convince himself that In Ha can take of herself and thinking about what her dad said about misunderstanding. But in the end, Dal Po turns back and returns to the station. In Ha is no longer there, however, but her mom is trying to get a taxi. Dal Po picks Song Cha Ok up, the woman who ruined his life.
Driving her, Dal Po starts up a conversation. He tells her he knows someone who took the interview today- can she tell him the result? She asks who and he tells her it is Choi In Ha. Without batting an eye but looking firmly into Dal Po’s through the rearview mirror, she says In Ha failed. She failed because of her Pinocchio syndrome. Dal Po asks if Cha Ok failed her because In Ha is her daughter. Song Cha Ok wants to know who he is. He replies he is In Ha’s uncle. Cha Ok wants him to stop the car.
In Ha comes home and starts packing up all her books she studied with to become a reporter. She flips through one book that has a picture of a girl floating up holding onto balloons. On the screen, we see the balloons pop but the girl has wings and is able to float instead of plummeting down.
Dal Po has dropped off Cha Ok near the end of a bridge. She learns that Dal Po is In Ha’s uncle because her grandfather adopted him. She argues that an uncle should have stopped his niece from dreaming a hopeless dream. In Ha’s dream is futile ambition because there is no reporter in this country with Pinocchio Syndrome.
Cha Ok emphasizes how there is no reporter in this country with the Pinocchio Syndrome. Dal Po responds that it is just a numerical figure and Cha Ok argues that a numerical figure is also a reason, demonstrating that there must be a reason why there is none, zero, zilch.
Jae Myung sits at a restaurant with an older friend who seems to know about his father. But the friend has just recently found out through a picture that Jae Myung also has a mother and brother. Jae Myung tells him that they are dead. He also describes how he has searched the whole country through and through looking for his father but was unable to find him.
Jae Myung also texts the person who left him the note on his windshield (Dal Po) to tell him it is okay, no need to pay him to fix it. Jae Myung also asks his friend for a bit of work. He heard that he is being contracted to demolish a factory.
The men at a nearby table are fighting over some contract and they start bringing up an old story of a fire and a cover up. Jae Myung’s ears perk up since it sounds like his family’s story. As he hears more of what they are saying, Jae Myung grows more and more certain. One of the men gets injured while fighting so all the guys rush out to go to the hospital. Jae Myung chases after them but misses them. He repeats to himself, “They said it was a lie,” as he grips the balled up contract that rolled over to him while the guys were fighting.
While Jae Myung is outside, his phone gets a text from Ha Myung, thanking him and telling him his name- Choi Dal Po.
Dal Po comes home to find grandpa worried that In Ha ran away from home. Her dad is out looking for her. Dal Po also goes to search and in the process, he sees fireworks. This brings back memories of the night his mom committed suicide and fear grips Dal Po. He searches for In Ha frantically, worried that she might be considering the same thing as her mom.
Dal Po is back around their apartment complex and spots pieces of paper on the floor. One of the pieces has In Ha’s picture on it- it is her exam name tag. He sees that the pieces are coming from the roof and he runs up, thinking In Ha might be there, preparing to jump off.
Dal Po reaches the top to find the door locked. He starts kicking it and yelling so In Ha knows he is there. She panics. She has been trying to burn her books and doesn’t want Dal Po to find her here like this. She hides just in time as Dal Po bursts through the door. He looks frantically for her until he hears hiccups. It is In Ha hiccuping while hiding under a large banner. He is completey relieved.
Dal Po approaches her, saying he knows she failed the interview and found out her mother wasn’t the person she expected her to be. In Ha asks for him to just pretend, then, that he doesn’t so she can lie and pretend she is okay like any other normal person can. Dal Po assures that that she doesn’t have to pretend since he knows how upset she is. He is saying, “In front of me…” as he pulls off the banner off of In Ha and discovers her crying. He kneels in front of her and apologizes, saying his dream must have not been that good.
Seo Beom Joo sits in his car reading through the messages that In Ha has sent him over the years. He walks into his house determinedly and declares to his doting mother that he wants to meet her. His mom knows who he is talking about- “That Pinocchio?”
Dal Po is packing up her books again but In Ha tells him to leave it. He asks if she is giving up being a reporter and her mom. She replies yes but hiccups. She promised her dad and she can’t keep wasting her twenties unemployed while Dal Po earns money for the family. She knows he gave up college because of her and she can’t face him anymore. She feels good having giving up and knowing this is the end now! Of course In Ha hiccups after yelling that last part.
In Ha is angrily throwing her books back into the trash can she was trying to burn them in when Dal Po stops her. He remembers back to his conversation with Song Cha Ok on the bridge.
He has asked how easily she can say “absolutely” when declaring In Ha has no chance of becoming a reporter. How many lives has she so easily judged with that kind of thinking, especially when she is reporter! Cha Ok smirks and tells him that wolves don’t bark when they see a tiger, only stupid puppies do. She asks if he is barking at her with any knowledge of what a reporter is. Dal Po admits he doesn’t know anything and apologizes. But he swears to find out and seek her out again after he has become a wolf and properly bark at her.
Goodness, actress Jin Kyung is so good as Song Cha Ok!
To In Ha, Dal Po says, “I need those books.” He declares he will be a reporter. “Let’s become a reporter together, In Ha.”
Beom Joo’s mom asks her son, “You want to see her now after thirteen years?” She asks if she should find her for him. Beom Joo says he will go see her on his own.
As fireworks burst in the air, Dal Po smiles at In Ha. “They stopped. Your hiccups.”
End of episode 3
Still good. The pacing is good, as well as the tone, and it’s a easy drama to follow without being too simple and cliche.
While we barely got to see Lee Yoo Bi, we got a little bit more of Kim Young Kwang today. I’m attributing it to Kim Young Kwang’s acting, but does Seo Beom Joo initially appear a little “slow” to you? It might also be the way his character is written, like a mama’s boy, but I was surprised at how awkwardly Kim Young Kwang delivered his lines in that scene with his mom. I’m sure (or hoping) he will improve tomorrow when he has more screen time and more context for his character.
I like how Dal Po never sees Jae Myung’s face in the dream since he really doesn’t know what his brother looks like ten years older. It was a nice touch of detail.
I also love how In Ha’s Pinocchio Syndrome is not just about speech but how she feels. She doesn’t just hiccup when she tells a lie, but when she doesn’t do something her heart wants to, like picking up Dal Po’s phone call after meeting her mother.
It looks like that factory demolishing job Jae Myung is interested in will turn out to be the factory his father died in. I hope Jae Myung finally finds out about his father and we get some closure for this poor kid.
I really don’t know who has it worse. Jae Myung has lived alone all these years, having lost his family and bright future, and searching high and low for his father. Ha Myung has lived with a family but his existence in this family is a lie. He also gave up his bright future for this family, In Ha in particular. On the other hand, Jae Myung gets to live his life as who he is, even if it is alone and doesn’t amount to much. Ha Myung has to lie but gets to live with a family, although this is a situation that makes In Ha out of his reach, plus her mother situation. All I know is I wouldn’t want to be either one of them. Both are good people, like their father, and I hope they find happiness and family soon.
Coincidence plays a huge part in this drama, as well as large leaps of faith. It kills me every time Jae Myung and Dal Po miss seeing each other. I foresee this drama toying with me every step of the way, keeping the brothers so close but so far from each other. And my goodness, the odds of those factory guys sitting next to Jae Myung at the restaurant and happening to have a fight which leads them to talk about what they they did to the firefighters? A billion to zero. But hey, it’s drama, right?
I saw that guy who testified he saw Ha Myung’s dad alive reflected in In Ha this episode when she argued with Dal Po that she believes in what she sees. What one sees, or believes one sees, is not the whole thing or the right thing. That guy saw a man who looked like Ha Myung’s dad through a rainy, blurry window. In Ha saw a mother she wanted to see and needed to see- a mother who was too talented and too busy to find time to call her own daughter. In Ha’s beliefs- the truths in her life- are being shattered as she comes face to face with her mother and the realities of being a reporter.
There are always a couple of good lines of poignant dialogue in each episode that adds to the debate this drama is having about truth and lies. In this episode, it was Song Cha Ok saying, “Truth floats through the lies like oil rising in water.” Reporters have to lie sometimes to get the truth. The way to truth is murky, messy, and probably not what you want it to be. It looks like in this scene that Cha Ok won the debate, but it’s really In Ha and Cha Ok talking about different things.
In Ha believes reporters only have to tell the truth, so her syndrome shouldn’t be a problem. Cha Ok disagrees. But what Cha Ok is talking about it the process and what In Ha is talking about is the result. Both are right, then, and both are wrong. What In Ha is essentially good for is just reporting the news, like an announcer, and being kept in the dark as much as possible about the real situation. Cha Ok may be right about the truth floating on top of the lies, but her lies and truths get too mixed up together and you can’t tell the substances apart anymore. Song Cha Ok walks the fine line between fact and fiction and she is walking it so much, she’s actually erasing it.