Recap: Pinocchio Episode 5
Hell is not someplace you go only when you die.
Episode 5- The King Has Donkey Ears
Choi Dal Po tries to find out from the police where his father’s remains are. He learns a family member claimed the remains and Dal Po tries desperately to find out information since now he knows his brother is alive. For the first time in a Korean drama, private information is kept private and the police officer won’t tell Dal Po the information about his brother since he can’t prove he is family through official documents. Still, there is one thing Dal Po got out of all this. He learned that he was not alone in this world.
At the same moment, Jae Myung is at the mortuary, standing in front of his father’s ashes. He cries because he is now truly alone in the world. And the only one in the world who knows how unfairly his father died.
Dal Po asks his dead father where and what he is supposed to do to find his brother. At that moment he gets a text notifying that he has been accepted to YGN as a reporter. Dal Po believes this is the answer his father sent him. He wanted to be a reporter with and because of In Ha, to show her mother. But that resolve has gone down the drain and he has a new one- he wants to let the world know his father’s story and find the only other person who knows this story, his brother. Dal Po thinks it may be his father, not In Ha, who led him here to become a reporter.
It’s a new day and In Ha and Dal Po are both off to work, except the former is going to work part-time at a convenience store and the latter is heading to the tv station. In Ha’s father has nothing but snark for his daughter, advising her to find a job as a teacher whose resume includes making a taxi driver into a journalist in one month.
In Ha and Dal Po are a little awkward with each other and In Ha hasn’t stopped hiccuping since the day she realized she like Dal Po but denied it. In Ha harbors no ill feelings toward Dal Po nor is she jealous even though he outed her as a Pinocchio and she tries to tell him so, but because of her hiccuping, he doesn’t believe her.
In Ha explains that she understands Dal Po had no choice but to attack her that day because it was a survival debate. Dal Po clarifies that it wasn’t because he had no choice but because he truly believes it- she shouldn’t become a tv journalist. In Ha wants to know why and Dal Po replies that it is as he said during the debate- someone who doesn’t know the harm words can do shouldn’t be a reporter. But Dal Po can’t tell her the other part of his reason- if she becomes a reporter, she will remind him too much of her mother and he will feel pain every time he looks at her. In Ha is angry, thinking Dal Po was lying about becoming a reporter together.
In Ha is working at the convenience, trying to hold everything in but one customers opens the flood gates and out rushes In Ha’s tears, grievances, and complaints. She’s feeling sorry for herself and to complete strangers, In Ha sobs and sobs. It’s hilarious, really, as she manages to do her job while waves of tears come to her again and again. One of the customers turns out to be Beom Jo. He has tracked her down here too. He tells her to keep talking; he will listen to it all. He has all the time in the world.
Dal Po arrives at YGN on his first day of work. He finds his cohort members huddled around. (They all speak informally to each other, even if there is an age difference, because they are in the same cohort. It’s tradition.) They are exchanging information about their senior colleagues- the one to watch for is Jang Hyun Gyu, ranking reporter in the Han River Line. He likes to pick on people so his nickname is Jang Ddan Ji (ddan ji is the term used for picking on people and his last name is Jang, but hilariously, jang ddan ji as a complete phrase means calf in Korean) and he hates it when people cry.
Unfortunately for Yoon Yoo Rae, who was leading this conversation, Calf catches them in the act and it looks like things between Calf and Yoo Rae start off on the wrong foot.
Yoo Rae and her partner in crime get punished by Calf. The YGN news people who evaluated the applicants during the camera test are in another room, watching as spectators. Gyo Dong thinks Dal Po won’t last this initiation process since he said to Gyo Dong previously that he hates reporters and the tv station. Meanwhile, Calf catches Dal Po’s eye and asks him if he thinks Yoo Rae is being unfairly punished. Gyo Dong thinks Dal Po will talk back and get in trouble, but Dal Po is surprisingly meek and obliging. Dal Po answers that Yoo Rae deserves her punishment and when Calf punishes him for not taking his cohort’s side, Dal Po quietly obeys. This is not what Gyo Dong expected from the fiery boy he met years ago.
Calf is going to teach the new recruits for a week how the news is made and reported. After the week, they will be assigned to a line, like the Han River line. For journalists in Korea, the city of Seoul is separated into different sections, called a line, and reporters specialize in one line since they can’t cover the whole city. After they get assigned to a line, they will go around police stations and find a story they believe should be covered.
Dal Po is describing this to grandpa at home and In Ha overhears in the bathroom. Peeved, she brushes the toilet with Dal Po’s toothbrush and puts in back in place. She doesn’t go through with this disgusting revenge, however, coming in at the last minute before Dal Po puts the toothbrush in his mouth to throw it out. Dal Po, of course, doesn’t know she saved him from toilet germs, only that she is still angry.
The old factory men are eating dinner together again, happier now because the former foreman paid back some money to the other two. They also talk about the discovery of Ki Ho Sang’s remains and they are happy, relieved that Ki Ho Sang won’t return and reveal the truth about their lie. Jae Myung, who has been silently sitting next to them at another table, gets up and pretends to trip into the three’s table. He stealthily grabs the foreman’s wallet off the table, acts drunk, apologizes, and leaves.
As the YGN newbies learn the news reporting process, we learn that MSC is not doing well in terms of news show rankings, especially in trustworthiness. At MSC, they worry about what to do about this problem. Song Cha Ok confirms with the rest of the team that two new recruits dropped out recently, leaving open two spaces. The wheels in her head begin to spin even more rapidly.
At the convenience store, In Ha is doing exactly what Beom Jo said she could do- she talks and talks and he listens and helps her restock the shelves. She complains that Dal Po won’t tell her why he suddenly changed his mind about her becoming a reporter and that everyone doesn’t want her to become a reporter. She blames her hiccups for all the trouble they have caused her. Beom Jo reminds her that it could have been worse- instead of hiccups, she could have farted every time she lied. In Ha thanks him for the positive reminder and for listening to her. He assures her that enjoys listening to her.
Suddenly, Cha Ok is there. Talking to In Ha alone, she offers In Ha a position at MSC since there is an opening. In Ha asks why her- was she next in line or… In Ha can’t verbalize what she really wants to know- is it because Cha Ok wanted to help her out? Cha Ok knows what In Ha wants to ask without her saying it and she replies it is neither. She is honest and tells In Ha she is for marketing purposes- to increase trustworthiness in MSC since she is a Pinocchio. It is only a three-month intern position, although it might be made permanent. In Ha is disappointed that this is not a real reporter position and says no. But Cha Ok reminds her that she is not in a position to refuse this offer. She shouldn’t try to save face and her pride. She has to make a choice and that means something will have to be given up.
In Ha asks what Cha Ok gave up when she chose to be a reporter. Cha Ok answers, “You.” In Ha asks if Cha Ok regretted that decision and for the first time, Cha Ok’s gaze softens- “Yes.” But it hardens again as she says she is thinking now she shouldn’t have, seeing In Ha cling onto those things like face and pride. She leaves In Ha her business card and tells her to come without the hiccups, if she chooses to come to MSC.
Mom gone, In Ha whispers as she tears, “I thought you came because it was my birthday.” Beom Jo watches from across the convenience store and puts her birthday gift that he bought back into his pocket.
Beom Jo tells his own mother what happened to In Ha. He hugs his mom, grateful his mom is not like In Ha’s. Beom Jo also tells her he is curious why In Ha wants to become a reporter so much even while receiving that kind of treatment from her mom, why Cha Ok became that tough and hard, and most of all, what will happen if a Pinocchio becomes a reporter. His mom notes that Beom Jo is strange these days, curious about so many things now. And I am still creeped out by his relationship with his mom a bit.
Through her headstand, In Ha has made a decision. She waits for Dal Po to come home and they talk on the roof. She confesses she likes him, telling him her hiccups started after denying that she likes him. Dal Po is shocked, flustered, and looks away, saying she is lying. But she walks around to face him and shows him that her hiccups have now stopped.
In Ha tells Dal Po that she knows she can’t like him because he is her uncle, but because of her hiccups she has to confess. So the only thing they can do is have Dal Po pretend he didn’t hear anything from her. She will try everything to get rid of her feelings, like dating someone else even, so please forget what she said. As she walks away, Dal Po calls out, “What if you can’t? What if you tried everything but your feelings stay the same for a long time?” In Ha thinks Dal Po is talking about her, but he is really talking about himself. He wipes the tear from his eye before he turns around to ask her, “What happens then..to us?”
In Ha reassures him that that can’t happen since they are family. Besides, her feelings aren’t that strong yet so she should be able to get rid of them quickly. After In Ha leaves, Dal Po smiles a sad smile- “I’m glad it will be easy for you.”
In Ha comes home and sees her grandpa and dad cutting cake. She’s surprised and thinks they bought it for her birthday, but actually, they all forgot and dad just got the cake from a grandma and kid who wanted to thank him for helping them out before. Dal Po is even more suprised because this is actually the cake he bought for In Ha and but decided to give away to this grandma and kid he saw on the bus since he was too embarrassed to actually give the cake to In Ha. Guess the cake found its way back to its owner again. In Ha eats the cake with her hand, which her dad is embarrassed about again.
Later in his room alone, Dal Po turns the picture of the family on his desk face down as he thinks about what In Ha said. He doesn’t want to see what is keeping them apart. In her own room, In Ha gathers the courage to call her mom.
It’s a new day at MSC and Gong Joo and Il Joo get on the elevator talking about the two new recruits that were brought in by nepotism to fill the empty spaces. Gong Joo is unhappy and says he will complain about this abuse of power. Unfortunately for Gong Joo, both In Ha and Beom Jo are in the same elevator as them and get off at the same floor to meet Cha Ok and Yeon Doo Young, the department head. He is the one who hired Beom Jo.
In Ha is immediately brought over to the studio to record the ad for MSC about her being the country’s first Pinocchio reporter. Cha Ok lends In Ha her heels after she sees In Ha’s clunky ones. In Ha also tells her that she hasn’t told her dad yet about working at MSC.
As YGN, the new recruits are given a tour of the NFS (National Forensic Service) and being taught that they need to know the power of science which reveals truth so that they can also properly reveal the truth.
The newbies are shown an autopsy and Dal Po looks unfazed when everyone else looks sick. Yoo Rae is struggling especially hard. Calf evilly suggest cow blood soup or beef tripe and intestine soup and this causes Yoo Rae to faint. Dal Po doesn’t budge and Calf looks pleased with him.
But at home, we see how Dal Po really felt. Fate would have it that dad and grandpa made beef tripe hot pot that night and Dal Po has to throw up after seeing it. Everyone is worried about him and all individually buy him medicine after dinner, even In Ha’s dad. With this act of love, Dal Po sets the family picture upright on his desk again.
The next morning, it’s a familiar scene in many people’s home with only one bathroom. Dal Po and In Ha are lined up at the bathroom, waiting for their turn. In Ha’s dad is in there. In Ha wants to go before Dal Po since she is running late, but Dal Po is also running late. They start to fight until the bathroom door opens, out comes Dal Pyung, and a blast of foul odors comes rushing out of the bathroom. It’s now a fight to push the other person in first. Dal Po – 1, In Ha- 0.
At YGN, Calf gives the newbies a huge pile of shredded paper from the major crime unit to see if there is any story to cover. They can’t leave until they piece together everything. After Calf leaves the room, Yoo Rae asks her cohort if she is the one most lacking here because she heard that Calf takes that person into his line. They all say yes and Yoo Rae starts to cry, denying that she is crying. She just yawned!
It’s nighttime and Jae Myung’s friend is inspecting his bumper again and insisting that Jae Myung gets compensation. It looks like Jae Myung is convinced this time and makes a call. The phone rings on Dal Po’s side, asking to meet up about the bumper. We think it’s Jae Myung and Dal Po calling to each other and I am starting to get excited about the brothers finally meeting, when we learn that it’s actually Jae Myung’s friend who has called Dal Po and is getting money for him since Jae Myung won’t do anything about it.
Jae Myung, on the other hand, is meeting up with the former foreman, saying he is returning his wallet. Jae Myung looks very suspicious, however, as he leads the foreman to a junkyard area, saying this is the way to his house where the wallet is.
Crash! The foreman falls through a manhole, made into a trap by Jae Myung. After the man falls into it, Jae Myung quickly covers the hole with its heavy metal cover.
Dal Po is back at YGN after settling things with Jae Myung’s friend. Unfortunately, Calf knows he left and punishes him by making him put the paper pieces together alone. Yoo Rae and the others get to leave and while waiting for the elevator, Yoo Rae can’t hide her smile, happy that it looks like Dal Po will be the one going to Calf’s Han River line. Her mouth is saying, “I feel bad for him,” but her lips are stretched from ear to ear.
At MSC, In Ha and Beom Jo are getting off work. In Ha knows Beom Jo was given his spot by the department head. She also finds his name familiar and Beom Jo reveals that the famous mall- Beom Jo mall- was named after him. Unfortunately, In Ha thinks he is lying and doesn’t figure out he is this rich guy from a famous family.
In Ha notes that the two of them meet really frequently and wonders if it is just coincidence. Beom is telling her no and is about the reveal who he is when she is distracted and walks away. She sees the ad that she filmed and is so happy to hear herself announce herself as a MSC reporter. Beom Jo is happy to see In Ha look happy and he says to himself, “It doesn’t matter if it is coincidence or not. What is important is that we met.”
Back at YGN, Gyo Dong is drilling Dal Po. He wants to know why Dal Po is here, trying to become something he said he hates at a place he said makes him throw up. He wants Dal Po to forget rank and tell him the truth- did he suddenly come to like reporters?
Dal Po tells the truth. He still hates reporters. But he is here because of a name. He wants to say his real name at the end of a report when he finally gets to be on air as a reporter. Gyo Dong asks what his real name is.
Intercut together with this scene of Dal Po is Jae Myung’s scene. He is piling bricks on top of the manhole cover, talking to the foreman trapped underneath. The foreman demands to know why he is doing this and who he is. Jae Myung tells him, “I am fireman Ki Ho Sang’s son.”
Dal Po answers Gyo Dong, “I am Ki Ha Myung. I am the son of Ki Ho Sang, the fireman whose remains were recovered recently.”
Jae Myung tells the foreman, “I want to show you how my father died.”
Dal Po- “I lost my father, mother, and brother because of you people. I also lost my name. And recently, I found out from you people how unfairly my father died. I have a lot to say and a lot to find out. There is also someone I want to find. I wondered who can do all those things. And the answer was absurd.”
Jae Myung- “You will die down there. But no one will know. They will think you are hiding somewhere.” Jae Myung describes how people will think of the foreman as the devil who killed his juniors because of money. No one will know that the foreman didn’t kill them, not even his family. The world will remember him as a cowardly murderer and his family will have to live their whole lives ashamed. They will learn that hell is not someplace you go only when you die.
The foreman begs for forgiveness but Jae Myung can’t be stopped. He continues to scream at the foreman- even if his remains were discovered years from now, no one will care. “LIKE MY FATHER!!!!!!”
Dal Po answers Gyo Dong, “Yes, that is why I became a reporter. Because a reporter can do all those things. So…” Dal Po bows to Gyo Dong. “I will work hard. Captain.”
Someone save me. No, someone save Jae Myung. Please tell me those men’s death were an accident. Please tell me Jae Myung didn’t kill them! Tell me he is not a murder! Tell me he won’t murder a third person!!!
I cry for Jae Myung and the life that he lived and the choices that he made. A bright, smart, and kind kid lost everything. He was too old to move on, too unlucky to find a new life with a warm family. He spent the rest of his life searching for his father, giving up everything else so that he could. He didn’t care if his father was really a shameful coward, just that he was alive somewhere. But that small hope was dashed when his father’s remains were found and he learned that his father was framed. Distrustful of a world that made his father into a villain, he took matters into his own hands and exacted his revenge. Except revenge is never the answer because it hurts you as much as it hurts the other person. How will Jae Myung find redemption for his crimes? Is it even possible? Please, please tell me Jae Myung is not a murder.
Dal Po was given a different fate than Jae Myung, finding a new family that he could lead a good life with. While Jae Myung loses all hope, Dal Po finds new hope in the knowledge that his brother is alive. But how will Jae Myung now be able to face Dal Po? What choices will Dal Po need to make as a reporter, a reporter that needs to find and tell the truth? Will he have to report on the his own brother’s crimes in the future?
This drama remains well-paced, well-balanced, and always interesting. It doesn’t feel like we are wildly shifting from one tone to another when things get comical or things can serious. The transitions are easy to follow and the characters are all very likable. Yoo Rae is a riot, which is a nice change from the standard secondary female lead. Jin Kyung, the actress playing Cha Ok, plays her so convincingly. I can’t simply rule Cha Ok out as a villain, an evil mom. While Cha Ok seems to know how to use her daughter’s obvious longing and need for approval to her disadvantage, I also sense a layer of affection for her daughter behind that icy, cold, and composed exterior.
I continue to love In Ha and dad, who has no qualms digging it in to his daughter about her failing to become a reporter. It works because In Ha is takes this all into stride and I have no worries over any loss of confidence by In Ha because of her father makes fun of her. In Ha is resilient and I love her so much for it, even if her desire to become a reporter seems so blinded by her longing for approval by mom. This girl has major mommy issues, not dad.
Each episode is titled and this one is “The King Has Donkey Ears.” This phrase is from an ancient story that teaches a lesson about secrets. There are different versions of this story but it is basically about a barber who is the only who knows the king has ears shaped like a donkey. He swears to keep it a secret, but he finds that he finds himself itching to tell it. So what he does is scream “The king has ears shaped liked a donkey’s” it into a hole and covers it but that hole is found and people hear the secret and soon the secret spreads all over. The King gets mad his secret is out and the barber gets punished. Some sweeter versions say the king learns not to be embarrassed anymore by his ears. Whatever version, the story illustrates what happens to secrets. In relation to this drama, it shows you no secret will remain a secret, not the foreman’s lie nor Jae Myung’s murder. Like how In Ha’s hiccups reveal her secret and how a whisper between three men can be heard by the wrongly accused son year’s later, secrets come out, even if you bury it into a hole when no one is around.