After that climactic reveal, “Love in Contract” returns with a surprisingly low-key pair of episodes that deal with the fallout around Choi Sang Eun’s (Park Min Young’s) occupation with a healthy dose of introspection and character development. Amidst all the chaos and furor and conglomerate politicking that aim for control over Sang Eun’s life, the people who love her most step up to do as right by her as she does by them. Here are the four most heartwarming moments from the past week’s episodes!
Warning: spoilers for episodes 11-12 below.
1. Ji Ho not giving one word of thought to the articles or to Hae Jin’s needling
Jung Ji Ho’s (Go Kyung Pyo’s) life has never been more chaotic. His wife’s face is on every newspaper in the country, and his colleagues have gone from mocking him behind his back for being stoic to…mocking him behind his back for being whipped (why are they like this?). But Ji Ho has never been calmer. Secure in his place in Sang Eun’s affections, he focuses instead on the one thing that this situation requires most and the one thing he has been prepping for the past five years: communication.
When Kang Hae Jin (Kim Jae Young) comes to him, begging to let him marry her (dude, why are you asking him and not her?), Ji Ho’s only point of irritation is that Hae Jin knows more about her than he does. So instead of panicking over all the men after his wife, he very sensibly makes a list of every question he wants her to answer. Until he hits question 500. Aw. Sang Eun is equally moved and astonished by how wonderful and caring he is. He’s her rock as she navigates this new storm, and when he brings out his list, she muses that they should take their time with it and not rush getting to know each other. Instead, they should court each other for a long, long time. Wise words indeed, and Ji Ho loves her for it!
2. Gwang Nam being the absolute best
Woo Gwang Nam (Kang Hyung Suk) has been between a rock and a hard place this entire time, caught between Yoo Mi Ho’s (Jin Kyung’s) scheming to make Sang Eun a chaebol daughter-in-law and genuinely trying to watch out for Sang Eun. When he discovers that Mi Ho has been the one running around behind Sang Eun’s back to arrange her marriage for her and ruin her life, he goes straight to the only person he knows will always have Sang Eun’s back: Ji Ho.
Ji Ho is certain of Sang Eun’s ability to handle the situation with Hae Jin, but Gwang Nam knows better. Sang Eun got into this business as a way of monetizing her skills, yes, but also because she genuinely felt bad for her clients. That was always her main criteria even when selecting them. He fears that Sang Eun will do something drastic and, as it turns out, he’s right.
With the reveal of her profession, Sang Eun has been facing a torrent of abuse and sexist comments but so has Hae Jin. His reputation is tanking (his own fault really), especially after he finally caught the motorbike helmet stalker and discovered to his shock that it wasn’t his stalker but Sang Eun’s! The stalker was one of her ex-husbands who got obsessed with her and hasn’t stopped. The news only makes them look worse, and Sang Eun decides to simply end her contract with Hae Jin by accepting all the blame. She tells Jung Ji Eun (Lee Joo Bin) to write up a press release framing her as a gold-digger who tried and failed to get her claws into Hae Jin. Hae Jin is aghast at this, but Sang Eun is determined to be self-sacrificial. Luckily, neither Ji Ho nor Gwang Nam plan on letting her do that.
3. Ji Eun’s loyalty to Ji Ho (and herself)
Now this is a tricky one because Ji Eun isn’t being loyal for altruistic reasons but because she wants Ji Ho back. We see glimpses of their marriage while they were both prosecutors, and it’s very clear that while she cared about Ji Ho, they were at different places in their lives. He wanted love and companionship in their marriage, and she wanted a career and was focused on just that. But instead of giving it to him straight, she wore him away instead. Ignoring his home-cooked meals and his gestures of affection and lying about where she was when he called, she went about their breakup in the worst way possible by tearing the very heart out of him.
They used to have dinner together on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. And when Ji Eun finds that Ji Ho does the same with Sang Eun, she takes that as proof of him not having gotten over her and trying to do this to spite her. In reality, Ji Ho only wanted to heal the memory of those days, heal Sang Eun, and perhaps heal himself in the process. But Ji Eun has a lot of guilt to reckon with, her career ended up imploding, she hasn’t healed one bit, and she is clinging to the last man who was her anchor in the storm. Only, he’s moved on.
So when Ji Ho comes to her requesting that she contact Sang Eun’s past husbands to prove that she wasn’t some kind of gold-digger (after all, those ex-husbands wouldn’t be pleased if word got out that they hired a contract bride!), Ji Eun does it in a manner that both vilifies and vindicates Sang Eun and places a further impediment upon her relationship with Ji Ho: she holds a press conference to say that all Sang Eun’s relationships were real and true and that none of the men have anything bad to say against her but that her relationship with Hae Jin is also real and true and that they’re in love.
It’s a cruel move because it makes it that much harder for Sang Eun to get out of her relationship with Hae Jin (and she has been trying so hard to do that!), and it completely steps all over Sang Eun’s autonomy. But in Ji Eun’s eyes, she’s being loyal to Ji Ho by preserving the reputation of the woman he loves and kicking her out of the picture at the same time. I suppose that’s her warped worldview!
4. Sang Eun making Ji Ho a priority despite everything
Ji Ho’s superiors, being rather old-school, haven’t heard of the news around Sang Eun, but his coworkers have a field day every time Ji Ho walks into the office. It’s a situation that Ji Ho isn’t unfamiliar with. During his marriage with Ji Eun, their coworkers often gossiped about how she hung out with older prosecutors after work and drank with them in an effort to climb the corporate ladder faster. But whereas this gutted Ji Ho in the past, it doesn’t with Sang Eun. Because she goes out of her way to make him a priority, while Ji Eun did her best to show him that he wasn’t. Sang Eun communicates with him, updates him on how she’s feeling on where things are progressing. She does her very best to preserve their fledging relationship, and Ji Ho sees that and appreciates the effort, and it makes it easy for him to keep his head up. Because he knows the truth even if his coworkers don’t.
Upon being invited to a coworker’s birthday party on short notice, he goes along but doesn’t bring a gift. Everyone else side-eyes him even though he explains that he had no clue that it was her birthday when Sang Eun pops up. It’s a horrendously awkward moment because his colleagues (the same ones who fawned over her previously) eye her like she’s a reptile, but Sang Eun is ever gracious and says she figured upon hearing of the party that Ji Ho wouldn’t have gotten a present, so she brought one over instead. She doesn’t make any apologies for her profession but makes sure to clear up that she and Hae Jin are only together contractually (now someone please inform Hae Jin of this because he seriously still thinks he has a chance). The mood eases, and Ji Ho and Sang Eun share a warm hug afterwards.
Moments like this show just why this relationship is so good. It’s healthy, comfortable, and doesn’t demand too much. They are there for each other and communicate healthily when they can’t be present. But trouble looms on the horizon. Mi Ho is going too far in her attempts to have Sang Eun reinstated in Ina group, going as far as to blackmail the chairman with her dossier of his illegal dealings. Even her lackeys warn her that she’s going to get herself killed. But it might not be her who ends up dying.
Sick of Mi Ho’s scheming, Gwang Nam tattles on her to Ji Ho, who digs into her background, threatens everyone involved with Sang Eun’s adoption with child abuse, and stalks over to remove Mi Ho from Sang Eun’s life. But, of course, their meeting place is a crosswalk. And when two parties meet at a crosswalk, it is law that a truck of doom must appear to crash into one of them. We only see Mi Ho’s panicked features and Ji Ho, good to the core, running toward her to pull her away. And just like that, the show leaves us hanging.
I’m really hoping that this is a fake-out because if not, this runs the risk of being a stereotypical plot where the heroine distances herself from the hero after he gets injured looking out for her. “Love in Contract” has done a pretty good job avoiding much of the dreaded cliches, so here’s hoping that they don’t go this route and we find Ji Ho, and even Mi Ho, unscathed next week!
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Shalini_A is a long time Asian-drama addict. When not watching dramas, she works as a lawyer, fangirls over Ji Sung, and attempts to write the greatest fantasy romance of all time. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and feel free to ask her anything!