I’ve got to say this show is making me want to wrap myself in chunky knitwear, curl up with a book for a week and eat kimchi stew. Anyone else? I’m in Australia where we’ve just come out of a heatwave (so knitwear isn’t really appropriate), and while I might have access to books all day, I certainly don’t know how to make kimchi stew. Anyway, enough about me and what this show is doing to me. Let’s dive into episodes 3 and 4 of Romance is a Bonus Book. Beware: spoilers ahead!
We left off with Eun-ho realising Dan-i was living in his house. Finally. So, truth time. Dan-i pours a rather large glass of whiskey and tells him everything. Kind of an anticlimax, really. Then she takes the bottle of whiskey upstairs and pours it out the window. Why? I don’t get it. Eun-ho finds the bottle the next morning and proceeds to make her hangover soup. I’m absolutely adding hangover soup to my list of things to try when I go to South Korea. Do cafes sell it or do I need to befriend someone who is willing to make it for me? It’s in absolutely every K-drama. Probably a bit of a stretch to count as a romantic trope? Also, let’s all note that he actually WENT UPSTAIRS.
At the office, Dan-i is being given all the mundane tasks – fixing the printer, watering the plants, ordering instant coffee. And Eun-ho is stalking her progress and texting her answers. Until she tells him to stop, spends half an hour trying to figure out what an IVL is and what it has to do with the company credit card, and then he saves her again by revealing the truth. And IVL is an iced vanilla latte, duh. PS. I love Dan-i’s jumper in this scene so much. This is going to make me spend hours scouring the web for stuff I can’t buy and also can’t wear for at least six months.
OMO. The new recruits are fast becoming my favourite part of this drama. Ji-yul’s mum calls Hae-rin because she’s running late. Absolute gold. Ji-yul comes running in all chirpy and Hae-rin is like, I don’t like your attitude and starts scolding her. Meanwhile, the rest of the staff hunch lower and lower towards their keyboards and hide behind folders. Then Hae-rin throws a manuscript on the desk in front of Ji-yul, plus something called The Spelling Book. LOL. What sort of book is that? A style manual? I love this show!
Moving on, flirtatious scene alert between Eun-ho and Hae-rin. I’m on the fence here. On the one hand, I like their flirty banter. But at the same time I really don’t approve! Also he has chemistry with her but none with Dan-i? What is happening? Thoughts?
Next up, we learn Spring Onion’s real name – Ji Seo-jun. And what a surprise, he’s a book designer! K-drama world is small, indeed. He’s in some amazing bookshop. (Wonder if it’s real?) And Eun-ho also just happens to be wandering around. The CEO is there, too, and on seeing Seo-jun flicking through the self-help section and starts offering him unsolicited book recommendations. I LOVE the CEO. He’s like Santa Claus or a guardian angel or something. He’s always popping up randomly, knowing exactly what you’re up to. Anyway, he’s recommending All I Ever Learned, I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. (Who’s interested in starting a Romance is a Bonus Book book club?) He keeps recommending books and Seo-jun doesn’t want to hear it. Turns out the CEO is there to plant sales. Ha! Eun-ho interrupts and drags him away.
The CEO proceeds to then tell Eun-ho that their cover designs make readers who carry them look boring. But The Radiant Summer Night cover (sadly, I don’t think this is a real book?) makes him look very refined. LOL. Eun-ho seems to be all about the written word and states that books aren’t accessories, but the CEO is smart enough to realise that people do actually judge books by covers. Surprise, surprise. AND the cover is by Ji Seo-jun who is apparently “the” designer of the moment and the CEO wants him for Gyeoroo Publishing. Of course, Seo-jun is overhearing all of this and smirking. Eun-ho is now in charge of finding Seo-jun and hiring him.
After work, Dan-i is out apartment hunting and of course, bumps into none other than Seo-jun our Spring Onion/Book designer. They’re both kind of sweet with each other. He’s also quite attractive and has a great smile.
In other news, Park Hoon (as soon as he’s on the screen I start laughing) is at a restaurant and is absolutely thrilled to be handing over his business card for a discount. Ji-yul is also there waiting for her boyfriend. Alas, her boyfriend walks in and promptly tells her that he’s breaking up with her and that her mum told him to do it. Being the sweetie that he actually is, Park Hoon hears the lot and orders a heap of food and wonders very loudly how he will manage to eat it all on his own, so Ji-yul joins him. Aww. Sweet. Are they going to end up together? That would be cute! What can their ship name be? Hoon-yul? Ji-hoon?
Meanwhile, Eun-ho is redecorating his spare room for Dan-i and he’s got lovely taste I must say. And I’m not just talking a bed. There’s artwork, soft lighting, colour-coordinated curtains AND make-up brushes! This is too much LOL. Dan-i comes home to find her stuff missing from the attic and immediately launches an attack, blaming him for her dad getting cancer because he was so stressed at helping Eun-ho get his inheritance back. More about Eun-ho’s childhood please! Then he reveals the amazing room he’s put together. What a great scene!! Haha!
When all is forgiven, they share a sweet moment over dinner where he tells her that it’s ok having her around and he blushes bright red. So. Cute. But how does she feel about him? I’m spending all my time trying to figure it out.
Next day at work, there’s an announcement. The leadership team need a blurb for the upcoming new title. This is Dan-i’s chance to shine. The working title of the book is Pale, Viciousness. What are these titles? Must be lost in translation. But also, I wish they were real books. What would Pale, Viciousness be about?
Anyway, Dan-i stays up all night and gives her ideas to Mrs Go (the scary First Witch of Gyeoroo and also Director of Marketing) who tells her the pitches are outdated and stuck in the 90s. Ouch. They did sound kind of lame to be honest. But Dan-i doesn’t give up and gets to work on new ideas. Before the pitch meeting, she shows her new ideas to Hae-rin who, surprisingly, provides constructive feedback. One, she even gives a star. Dan-i then shows it to Eun-ho who also approves, so she gives it to Mrs Go before the meeting. BUT, Mrs Goo proves she owns the name of First Witch and steals Dan-i’s idea! And it wins! And even worse, Dan-i overhears it all and neither Hae-rin nor Eun-ho stand up for her! Poor form, Eun-ho.
After all that drama, it’s time for a super cute, swoony moment. After work, Dan-i and Eun-ho are back home and drinking a few bottles of soju. She goes to the bathroom and finds Eun-ho is missing. She calls him and he’s super drunk and slurring his words, saying he’s in a taxi going home. Of course, Dan-i is confused since he was already at home. Turns out, whenever Eun-ho has been drunk over the years, he’d jump in a cab and stand outside Dan-i’s old house because he missed her. And he’d heard her laugh, heard her fight and watched her cry. But he couldn’t say hello because his heart was breaking. Awwww.
Then, OMO, he gets a taxi back to his house and Dan-i is there waiting for him and he walks to her and embraces her and he thinks to himself that he doesn’t have to go there when he’s drunk anymore because she lives with him. CUTE!!
Other bits and pieces:
- So really, how do we think Dan-i feels about Eun-ho? I’ve already mentioned that the chemistry isn’t there yet. I kind of feel like she’s not as sincere in her appreciation of him. Or at least, we know how he feels because his voiceover tells us. But where’s her voiceover?
- Eun-ho is a man of contradictions. An unobservant editor. A cold, warm-hearted arrogant gentleman. A blushing womanizer.
- How cute is the office kitchen with the brass accents and a pink kettle? Are they taking applications?
- Also, the office is absolutely mad for clipboards. Very retro chic.
- Is Dan-i just a little bit too mature and perfect? The scene where she tells Hae-rin that she was disappointed not to get shown sympathy relating to the blurb situation was undoubtedly stinging. But at the same time, Dan-i always takes the moral highroad and I kind of want her to lash out at someone just once.
I was laughing as soon as I started the episode. Eun-ho has woken up with “morning-after regrets” over a hug. OMO how salacious! He hides under his doona and Dan-i yells at him for getting drunk. We flash back to when they were younger and she decided to teach him how to drink. I keep forgetting this is a ‘noona romance’ – i.e. Dan-i is older than Eun-ho.
She orders an entire bar cart of different types of alcohol and he’s completely smitten watching her pretend she knows how to open a bottle of wine. Turns out he was never any stranger to booze. Then she teaches him how to make soju bombs (LOL) and the whole place is cheering. She gets totally sloshed and covers her mouth in poorly applied lipstick and maybe tries to kiss Eun-ho? Or is she just drunk? Definitely drunk. After they leave the bar, we get trope number four – Eun-ho wrapping Dan-i in his jacket because she was cold.
Back in present day, Eun-ho tells Dan-i that he went to the house of the girl he likes. Dan-i uses her chopsticks to put food in his bowl. Then she declares it’s been ages since she had sex and he blushes. Seriously, can this actor blush on command?!
Then, Eun-ho realises he still has Hae-rin’s red bra in his drawer, so he puts it in a massive red bag because that’s subtle. And he takes it to work and hands it over to Hae-rin in the carpark and tells her she can’t come over anymore because he lives with a woman. Subtle like a sledgehammer. Mr Contradictions strikes again.
Meanwhile, Pale, Vicounsess is out and Dan-i is stacking the shelves with it AND delivering copies to everyone. So this is what it’s like to work in trade publishing? Freebies every time? There’s guilt radiating out of Eun-ho and Hae-rin over the blurb. Dan-i deliveries copies to Mrs Go who asks her what she thinks of the blurb and Dan-i says it’s perfect. And Mrs Go says she had the same idea for the blurb and beat her to it. Eek. Very underhanded, Mrs Go. Not nice!
Later, the new recruits go on an excursion with Eun-ho to where books get pulped. Lots of shows about the publishing industry are unrealistic. But Romance is a Bonus Book is actually proving to be a bit closer to accurate. I love that it is educates people about what actually happens in a publishing house. Books get pulped and it’s because people damage them or they don’t sell and it costs a fortune in warehousing. Don’t get me wrong – some of the show still presents publishing as more glamorous than the reality. But this right here, is the reality. Publishing is an expensive business. And as a book-lover, watching that montage of people wrecking books hurt my soul.The scene was actually quite sad to watch. It was beautifully shot – sentimental, like an ode to the lost books. I loved it. The CEO sobbing into the phone was gold.
Then, Hae-rin shows up with her red bag. Now Dan-i knows that she’s been sleeping with Eun-ho. Hae-rin wants Eun-ho to come over for kimchi. Is it not totally obvious now? It definitely causes the new recruits to start gossiping. Park Hoon is absolutely hilarious driving the company car back to the office. Having only got his licence the day before, he’s so tense and crawling along. He got his licence yesterday! He then has a complete breakdown behind the wheel and won’t take his hands off the steering wheel, not even to hit the indicator. Everyone was hysterical, Ji-yul was sobbing and Dan-i took over the wheel from the backseat. It was so well done!
Later, Dan-i is on the bus and mapping out what she knows about the red bra by literally drawing on the bus window with a marker. She also decides that when Eun-ho said he went to the house of the girl he likes, that he meant Hae-rin’s house. As she’s walking home she bumps into Spring Onion’s dog. Spring Onion (can I keep calling him that?) is running around looking for his dog and he’s frantic. Eventually, the dog and Spring Onion are reunited. I kinda love this guy? He’s so cute. Flirty banter ensues and he invites Dan-i over for ramen – ANOTHER TROPE for those keeping tally. That’s five now.
All this time, Eun-ho and Hae-rin have been eating dinner at her parents’ restaurant. They’re walking down the street afterwards, and who does Eun-ho just happen to see? None other than Dong-min aka Dan-i’s jerk ex-husband! Eun-ho says he’s going to get cutlets (aka go and possibly kill Dong-min) and tells Hae-rin she should go. And in he goes. Eun-ho slams down his bag, rips off his jacket, rolls up his sleeves and heads straight for Dong-min. YAS.
After landing a few punches, Eun-ho sits Dong-min and his (pregnant!) girlfriend down for a chat. After all, Eun-ho is very reasonable when he’s beating someone to a pulp. Also to note, the girlfriend is wearing what looks like a foam neck brace with a ribbon tied in a bow at the front. Seriously … what the? Anyway, Dong-min has no excuses, really, and Eun-ho insists that Dong-min email Dan-i to explain and also to send child support and alimony. He’s a real good guy, Eun-ho.
Meanwhile, Dan-i is at Spring Onions’s place and she’s looking at his artwork and finds that he’s been working on a painting of her. Which seems sweet until she also notices a series of locked doors and suddenly my sixth sense is back on high alert. Do we trust Spring Onion? Should we feel suspicious? Is he dodgy? Dan-i decides that she doesn’t want to share information about herself with him (for which I’m glad!). She says she’s happy to keep the charade up of calling herself Mrs Green Onion and him Mr Umbrella. But I’m hoping it’s because she’s realised he might not be as sweet as he comes across.
Back home, Eun-ho just got out of the shower and Dan-i tells him she was eating with her ‘neighbourhood friend’. Eun-ho is shocked that she ate ramen with a man. Doesn’t she realise what that means?! Dan-i says she’s upset she wasn’t offered sex with her ramen LOL. Then she says that all she needs in the world is one person that knows her really well and that she knows really well. And Eun-ho tells her that’s him and HE DANCES DOWN THE HALLWAY. LOL. So cute!!!
Anyway, then Eun-ho and the CEO head off to have a meeting with Spring Onion. I think my sixth sense was right. Spring Onion is actually kind of rude and doesn’t shake the CEO’s hand. Ok yes, he’s definitely a jerk. He’s cocky and Eun-ho is NOT impressed at all. Spring Onion isn’t at all interested in working at Gyeoroo. But he does have one question. He asks if they are still in contact with Kang Byeong-jun. You’ll remember he’s the elusive author that’s retired and gone missing. Apparently Kang Byeong-jun handed all his publication rights over to Gyeoroo, even though he’d never worked with them before and then disappeared. Eun-ho is having none of this line of questioning and goes to leave. Then Spring Onion accuses them of forcing the author and locking him up! WHAT? Eun-ho and Spring Onion almost come to fisticuffs over it. Sheesh.
Afterwards, the CEO and Eun-ho get food. And it’s revealed they donate all the money from the book rights. Eun-ho says he’s sorry that it’s his fault and the CEO says it’s a heavy burden to carry. Definitely intrigued. Then Eun-ho says he’ll visit him later. It’s all very vague. I guess they don’t want to reveal too much so early on in the series.
At home, Dan-i i is pacing around the house because Eun-ho isn’t home yet. She goes outside and he’s actually there, but doesn’t reveal himself to her. She wanders the garden singing, and he watches, and he remembers the song and he’s tearing up for some reason. Then she sees him and runs over, smiling. He tells her that he needs that one person who knows him, too. He’s worried about the world turning against him and hopes she’ll stick by him. Then he asks her to keep singing. I found this an odd way to end the episode, but it definitely sets up some questions for next week!
Other bits and pieces:
- Yes. Most of us really do get excited when advances arrive. Maybe not to the extent of sniffing them like the CEO. But the sentiment is the same.
- I absolutely need to get my hair done with that enormous grey plastic bag thing.
- What is Spring Onion’s agenda?
- What is Eun-ho hiding that makes him think the world will turn against him? And why did Dan-i’s song make him tear up?
- The story book ending credits that offer us extra little details. Eun-ho wants Dan-i to know the truth – about what though? His feelings? Or what he’s hiding? Also “We are all like books. We wait for someone to find us and open us to see what’s inside.” Love this!
And that’s it for this week. Thoughts and comments? Drop me a line below. Otherwise, until next week fellow K-drama lovers!