Recap: What's Up Episode 4

Episode 3 was good so I had high hopes for this episode. There’s a conspicuous absence of any musical action while Jae-hun’s past catches up on him. However, I’m not complaining because the story had me preoccupied. Im Joo-hwan is really really good here, and I’m not saying this just because I’m a fangirl (which I am). His personal growth is a pleasure to watch and his interaction with mum moved me to tears, which is a rare occurrence, considering it’s still early stage yet for the drama. I’m definitely loving this drama more than I expected to…

Episode 4
Team A is practicing their dance routine and Ji-eun showcases her singing ability, garnering applause from everyone but sulky Chae-young. Doo-ri who is taking a peek at Chae-young spots Tae-hee spying on them, but doesn’t rat out her roommate.

Meanwhile, Do-sung is freaking out with every second keeping watch by the door. When Tae-hee finally emerges, he drags her away asap. He chides her for imitating others but Tae-hee wistfully replies that it’s because they don’t have anything of their own that she’s imitating others. She starts to get teary-eyed and Do-sung is all flustered. She wishes aloud for their own music – for someone to compose for them. Haha. How convenient? Did you know his identity too? J
Unable to ignore her plea, Do-sung does set out to begin composing. Atta boy! Jae-hun who is sleeping (he does that a lot, doesn’t he?) wakes up and throws a pillow at him, startling him into shutting his monitor. Jae-hun thinks he’s watching porn – where? Europe’s? Japan’s?  Do-sung tells him to mind his own business and Jae-hun calls him – stingy porn boy! LOL.
Jae-hun asks if he knows someone who can compose, or at least someone who knows someone who can compose. He’s thinking of Tae-hee, whom he calls Do-sung’s girlfriend (Do-sung smiles sweetly at that), whose father he thinks is attending the musical based on her eagerness to put up a good show. If you only knew..sigh.

Do-sung asks if Jae-hun has a girlfriend. Jae-hun denies it but tells him about his childhood friends with whom he’s been hanging out since high school. Only they dropped out but he persisted until he graduated.

Well, those said friends had managed to get him into trouble as the local thug outs them to the police officer who was hot on Jae-hun’s trail previously. Oh dear. Now Mr. officer has a name - Jae-hun’s name.

It’s 2 am. Senior Da-jung raises a ruckus, hammering on her gong, and ordering all the musical freshies to assemble on the field in 10 minutes. Jae-hun is working out on his own outside (how rare, sleepyhead is not in bed!) when Mr.Ahjussi guard tells him about it. Jae-hun is not bothered and assures the guard it’s fine. Ahjussi remarks that every year there’s bound to be one like him – he who disrespects the seniors and ignores the plight of his fellow classmates.  
The kids gather but Do-sung is a nervous wreck when he realizes that Jae-hun missing again.

Well, Jae-hun is seriously considering joining them, no doubt affected by the guard’s remarks. Soo-bin interrupts his thoughts – he recognizes Jae-hun (I gather he should be pretty infamous by now) and tells him about Senior Leader, Lie Tian-ji. He calls his bluff regarding him having served army duty and tells him that his classmates are suffering because of him. Jae-hun scoffs, “That just makes him a psychopath, doesn’t it?” Soo-bin goes on by revealing how Tian-ji got two girls carted off in an ambulance the previous year. That ruffles Jae-hun’s feathers, he asks, “He hits girls? That kid?” Soo-bin denies it, only explains cryptically about a certain “Stairs of Friendship”.
That so-called “Stairs of Friendship” is actually Tian-ji making the freshies run up and down a flight of stairs. Anyway Chae-young is late but Tian-ji excuses her from running. Oh, is this the scary sunbae Soo-bin was talking about? Ceh.

Doo-ri is telling Tae-hee about a ghost story involving a sportswear-clad student who died on these very stairs, scaring her and Byung-gun who is listening in on their conversation. Buahaha.

Anyway, Tian-ji is pretty strict with everyone else, making them run until rebel Jae-hun finally shows up. Because Jae-hun is 13 minutes late, his friends are punished to run 13 rounds!

Jae-hun apologizes to Tian-ji, well he does in words, but his stance is anything but deferential. Tian-ji plays it cool, seeing that he’s got the upper hand this time. He mines Jae-hun guilt a little more by punishing the rest.

Just then, an exhausted Tae-hee imagines seeing a ghost, no thanks to Doo-ri, and faints. Tian-ji is indifferent and orders the rest to continue. What? Why the double standard?

Perhaps he’s trying to drive home his point, but Jae-hun has had enough. He offered to run on everyone’s behalf. Tian-ji is not impressed, so he ups the ante – he will run for 13 nights consecutively! Tian-ji is satisfied with that and everyone gets a break. Gah! I’m so disgusted. First the double standard, then the attitude. Tian-ji makes me so angry I wanna bite off his head.

*The objective of these orientations is ultimately to unite everyone, especially among those on the receiving end. It can be cruel but it’s pretty effective. People tend to bond faster and deeper in the face of adversity and a common nemesis.*
Well I understand the sunbae’s intention but I still hate him. Grrrr!

Having said that, it’s nice to see Jae-hun finally making progress – the fact that he cares enough to stand up for them means he’s finally made a connection. Because we know he’s always been a loyal friend (well, it shows by how he rescues his childhood friends) so it’s good to see him lower his barrier a little.

It’s Sun’s class. And he begins by saying that they don’t need foundations or philosophies to be a star. Chae-young counters that she doesn’t want to be a star, just a good actress – but he openly insinuates that she’s saying that because she’s not one. Everyone there wants to be a star, that’s the reason they’re there. He asks if there are any exceptions. Doo-ri raises her hand – she’s only here for the free accommodation! LOL.
Next, Jae-hun raises his hand – asking him what is the definition of a star? Is it the earnings per annum? The way he understands it – it’s just a way to earn money. Sun calls him out and tells him to entertain them. Their theme for the day is “happiness”. So he’s to make them feel “happiness” and if he succeeds, he’ll tell him how much he’s worth.

Meanwhile, Jae-hun’s friend – Yeon-ju is drawing lots of attention in the school trying to locate him.

In the class, Jae-hun feels insulted – he’s no performing monkey in a market and that’s precisely how Sun is making him feel. Just then, Yeon-ju bursts into the room and comes up to him enthusiastically – her unrestrained ardor drawing chuckles from everyone. Sun gives him 10,000 won for the laughs, however unintentional.

Yeon-ju wants Jae-hun to leave the country with them, without explaining the true reason. Jae-hun suspects that she and Ha-gyu must have gotten into trouble. Yeon-ju admits they are wanted by the police. Jae-hun is exasperated, he doesn’t want mum to have to bail him out again from the police station.

The police track down his mum. Mum tries to throw them off Jae-hun’s trail by declaring she’s not been in contact with him. Mr.Officer sees through her and informs her that Jae-hun is wanted for assault, which is much more serious than his petty thievery. Oh no! It is as I feared, they’re pinning the blame on him. He’s not even there!
Jae-hun brings Yeon-ju to the cafeteria, patiently trying to make her talk. Byung-gun, Do-sung and Tae-hee join them uninvited and insist to be introduced to his “girlfriend”. Even Doo-ri couldn’t help but chips in on the fun.

Yeon-ju is uncomfortable seeing his camaraderie with his new friends. Perhaps sensing he’s drifting further away from her world, she tells everyone about them being petty thieves and that she took a loan on his name from the local gangster, Jackson – so they need to escape from here. Jae-hun shouts at her, the light-hearted atmosphere dissipating quickly. Oh dear…

The guys are uncertain what to make of Yeon-jo’s tales which sounded rather outrageous to them. They pass by TV room where Do-sung remains rooted to the spot when he hears the name – Ha In Young. *Gasp. The mother! Apparently, she’s a well-known politician, formerly a drama actress 15 years ago who created waves with her marriage to politician Jung Bok-chae and currently appointed party spokesperson. No wonder she wants to hide Do-sung. He is a scandal that could effectively end her political aspirations. And here I thought mum was just wife to a famous somebody.
Yeon-ju is staying with Doo-ri and Tae-hee. Yeon-ju is awkward with the girls and gets even more anxious when Doo-ri snaps her picture, declaring she’s interested to befriend the gangsters by threatening to turn her over to them. Ha. Tae-hee leaves to join Jae-hun and the rest of Team B for their discussion on the musical.

Jae-hun announces that he’s been to the so-called library (pfftt!) to look up what’s a performance and concludes that…he couldn’t understand a word. LOL. He tells them they’ve got three choices. First is to change director – which is impossible because that position is designated by the lecturer. Second is to tell the other team, “You’ve won!” and surrender. LOL. And third is for them to figure out what needs to be done on their own. ROFL. What kind of solutions is that? So much for expectations. J

Yeon-ju has been observing him uneasily from afar. Doo-ri explains that University life isn’t all smooth sailing for him – since the first day, he’s been targeted by seniors, ostracized by fellow classmates, kicked out by lecturer – yet he still pretends to be unaffected and smiles it off like an idiot. Doo-ri tells her that she understands what it’s like to live in lies, but muses that it’s kind of sad when you can’t even tell if you’re crying because you’re truly upset or because you’re putting up at act. I like that it’s Doo-ri who sees through Yeon-ju’s lies and insecurities and hope that she will eventually do the right thing and let Jae-hun get on with his life, even if that life do not feature her.
Jae-hun’s mum comes looking for him in the University. She barges into the dormitory – he’s not in, and barges into Sun’s room next, expecting to speak to the teacher in charge. Sun doesn’t even know her son’s name but Mum beseeches him not to give up on her son. He’s not the kind to cause hurt to another. Sun is intrigued but tries to distance himself. Mum tells Sun not to believe what the police says, that her son is misunderstood. Sun is trying to calm mum down when Jae-hun finally makes it to the room. He is about to turn away when he hears mum’s heart-felt plea.

“He told me this is an emergency exit. My son thinks he’s found an emergency exit here. He’s grown up without a father but he never starved. But I’m just an uneducated woman, I can teach him nothing. Because I’m such a mother, he’s had to loiter in back alleys. He’s found an emergency exit away from home, and walking towards the light that is here…Please don’t turn him away…don’t give up on him.”
Jae-hun drags mum away and the two very stubborn mother and son shout at each other. Mum is worried thinking he’s done something wrong. Jae-hun is mad that mum does not trust him and tells her to leave him alone. Mum is hurt he’s shoving her away from his life.

She storms back into the truck leaving him a package of home-made kimchi. The ahjussi who brought her here explains that she knew Jae-hun only eats the kimchi she makes. Jae-hun softens and takes a step forward but stops himself, tears spilling down his cheek. He runs in the opposite direction leaving behind the kimchi which is collected by Tae-hee and Do-sung who witnessed the whole exchange.

It’s a long night.
Jae-hun runs to the friendship stairs, as is his promise. In fact, we can see by the strokes on the paper he’s done 6 rounds now…

Chae-young is practicing dance moves in the studio alone..

Sun looks at the emergency sign contemplatively…
Doo-ri wakes to see Tae-hee listening to something on her headphone, most likely reminiscing about her dad.

Jae-hun makes 12 rounds (he's supposed to do 13 a day) before his legs gives out on him and he falls, rolling down the stairs. He hurts, both physically and mentally. He cries sadly, laughs angrily but he picks himself up and prepares to run again.

OMG. This episode is so good. Song Ok-suk and Im Joo Hwan really nailed their scenes. The mother and son confrontation is so heartbreaking to watch. I don’t think any recap will do that scene any justice. I cried watching them the first time and I cried again when I’m recapping on re-watch. It’s that powerful. Their frustration and love for each other is so palpable, that I feel so much for them. I don’t know, I’m usually more easily moved by touching family love than the usual couple’s love. The last time I felt this way was when I was watching Can You Hear My Heart – Nam Gong Min’s relationship with his retarded father was a joy to watch.
Also I’m looking forward to see Sun take an active interest in his students. His dismissive attitude and barely veiled insults may be amusing to watch but I want to see him bond with the kids. It’s stuff like this that makes stories like this engaging. Judging from the preview, I shan’t have long to wait…


  1. Indeed, What's Up has been really enthralling so far. So much so that I actually watched ep 5 without subs. LOL.

    Even though Ep 4 and 5 did not focus on the musical as much, I enjoy the music played in the show very much. There's a wide variety and they're well-chosen for the scenes. Adding on the interspersed scenes of the students listening to various music to brainstorm for their makes one nostalgic for those university days again.

    btw, any idea what was the song playing when Im Joo Hwan was running up and down the stairs at the end (after his confrontation with mum)?

    Hope you'll continue re-capping What's Up! Not many people are, but it's such a gem.. :)

  2. @wormsoup,

    I do not know the song, sorry. But I do agree it complements the scene very well. At least when it's english songs I can maybe research a little, when it's korean songs, they pretty much lost me.


  3. My favorite scene is definitely the mother-son scene. I am also more affected by family love than couple love probably because I don't really have any experience with the latter. Anyways, their relationship appears to have this wall that neither are willing to penetrate. They clearly cherish each other, but this wall prevents them from fully understanding and expressing this love.